In the race for money, many student organizations didn’t make it to the finish line last semester. This time around, the race was canceled before it even started.
Leaders of student organizations could not apply for operating funds from student fees when Student Government applications opened at 8 a.m. yesterday. Docutraq, the online platform used to apply and process SG funding for organizations, crashed Monday.
There were reports that Docutraq has been slow in the past, but it has never completely shut down like it was Monday, Budget and Appropriations Chairwoman Samantha Girschick wrote in an email.
Because of the website crash, SG postponed opening applications to Thursday at 10 a.m, according to an SG Facebook post. Any requests submitted today must be resubmitted when applications reopen Thursday, according to the post.
When asked what caused the crash, Girschick wrote that she didn’t “have the specifics” and directed The Alligator to the UF Division of Student Affairs IT Director Matt Pendleton.
The app became unresponsive as student organizations began to submit requests, Pendleton wrote in an email. All the IT infrastructure and developer teams were on hand monitoring it and associated systems, and they alerted SG when they noticed the problem, he wrote. They took it offline to investigate.
“We are adding more capacity and performing additional load testing,” he wrote. “We expect to have this all implemented by the next time the web app is reopened.”
Improvements are made to the program after each budget request cycle, according to Pendleton. The repairs incurred no extra cost, and SG plans to continue using Docutraq, he wrote.
Problems with Docutraq have not harmed students’ ability to receive funds in the past, and the rescheduling will not impact organizations’ ability to receive funding, according to Girschick.
“If anything, more new organizations will be able to submit requests for funding with the extra time to gain DocuTraq access,” she wrote.
SG used to disburse funds by categorizing student organizations as budgeted or non-budgeted. Now, organizations receive funding on a first-come-first-served basis and must race to submit their applications when Docutraq opens before the money runs out.
These changes came about after UF and Young Americans for Freedom reached a $66,000 settlement in Summer after the conservative student organization sued the university. It claimed the policy categorizing student groups was discriminatory and restricted its freedom of speech.
“The Big Nine,” nine of UF’s most funded SG organizations, protested these changes, saying the system was difficult to navigate and that it affected their ability to co-sponsor their sub-organizations, smaller organizations that are housed under one of these larger organizations.
They said it forced them to scramble for new sources of income. Many couldn’t afford to fund welcome assemblies and other events.
None of the Big Nine organizations responded to emails from The Alligator requesting comment.
SG plans to talk to the UF Division of Student Affairs IT to prevent this problem from recurring, Girschick wrote.
“We will be having an in-depth conversation with DSA IT to ensure our student organizations are adequately supported in future budget cycles,” Girschick wrote.
Girschick did not respond to questions about how SG is working with the UF Division of Student Affairs IT and how she plans to help resolve the problems with Docutraq if she doesn’t know the details about the issues.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Samantha Girschick is the Budget and Appropriations Chairwoman. The Alligator originally reported differently.
Contact Chasity Maynard at [email protected]. Follow her @chasitymaynard0.