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Sunday, March 07, 2021

National Zoom outage disrupts UF, Greek life recruitment

Zoom Outage
Zoom Outage

As UF students and faculty prepare for a semester of online classes, a temporary Zoom outage Monday morning shook the confidence in a remote learning experience.

Zoom, an audio and video conferencing app used in workplaces, schools and social circles across the globe, suffered an almost four hour outage in the U.S. and parts of the U.K. While UF classes are not in session, some students, including those involved in Greek life, were affected.

UF spokesperson Steve Orlando said he doesn’t know how many at UF were affected, but noted that the impact appeared minimal. UF typically has between 12,000 and 15,000 active users at a given time of 75,000 total users affiliated with the university, Orlando said. Less than 8% of active users were affected by the outage.

He added that only those trying to enter through the browser were impacted, not those connecting through desktop and mobile app.

“We are aware of it, know it is part of a national outage, and are working with Zoom to resolve it,” Orlando said.

UF Information Technology listed the Zoom complication as a service issue at 8:30 a.m. Monday on its alerts dashboard, not as an outage. The dashboard also assured students that ONE.UF and are fully functioning. A noon update marked the issue as resolved.

In a statement from the company, Zoom confirmed a partial outage resulting in some users unable to access their video meetings and conferences.

UF Panhellenic recruitment, which began its second day on Monday with a packed schedule from 8:30 a.m. to noon, is relying heavily on Zoom. The process spans about a week and involves those interested going house to house and meeting the eighteen chapters around campus. 

Due to COVID-19, UF Panhellenic recruitment went virtual and is conducting the entire process online. The recruitment process helps potential new members meet current members and join the organization, but Zoom outages could interrupt this and complicate Greek life at UF. 

Ally Bravo, an 18 year-old UF biology freshman, was told during her recruitment that there would be an indefinite delay and that she would be updated soon with her start time. Her first meeting was delayed about two hours. 

“The people behind the scenes including the computer techs, pi chis, and panhellenic in general were great with working out little glitches in the system and eventually everything ran smoothly,” she said. “I had a lot of fun.”

Florida State University, which started classes on Monday, sent an email to all students and faculty providing a “Service Status” web page to update the community on the issue. 

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In the case of another Zoom complication at the start of classes next week, Steve Orlando sounded hopeful:

“We’ll do what we did today, which is to reach out to Zoom and help in finding a resolution as quickly as possible.”

This article has been updated to provide additional information about the number of users who were affected.

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