Austin Peay ransomware attack disrupts finals
Students at Austin Peay State University have taken to change.org with a petition urging school officials to rethink exam schedules that have been disrupted because of a ransomware attack on several of the school’s key communications platforms, including email and One-Stop.
Because of the attack, final exams on Friday were canceled and, according to the Austin Peay website, faculty would determine grades based on coursework to this point or students could elect to receive an “incomplete.”
An update Saturday stated the Austin Peay State University Office of Information Technology “continues to restore services to the university” and that students, faculty and staff could resume accessing the network.
More:Austin Peay targeted by ransomware attack; attack believed to be contained
It also stated that exams for the coming week, beginning Monday, would continue as scheduled, which fueled the Governor’s Student Body to create the petition citing: “Only canceling one day of exams (disproportionately) impacts students with exams next week. We recognize the complexity in this level of decision making, but urge university officials to consider the impacts this may have.”
As of 2 p.m. Sunday, the petition had 1,215 signatures. The university has about 10,000 students.
The petition goes on to state that “Connectivity on campus and to essential online student services such as One-Stop, Outlook email and One-Drive is compromised. Students who rely on campus for Wi-Fi, the Felix G. Woodward Library, the Writing Center, and other resources do not have access to them.”
Kyle Watts, a senior at Austin Peay, said he was unable to access his school email or the D2L Shell, which is where professors post assignments and students upload their work, for days leading up to his first final exam, which is scheduled for Monday morning. He said much of the communication from the university about the issue was done via email, which many students, himself included, did not have access to.
“For me, Monday and Wednesday are my exam days, and that’s the case for other students as well,” he said. “We were told Friday to be prepared to follow next week’s exam schedule as posted. I don’t think this falls in line with APSU’s commitment to equality of all students. They should either reschedule exams from last Friday, or cancel all exams for all students.”
Watts said he wasn’t able to access his email until about 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Charles Booth, communications director for Austin Peay, said while the university is sympathetic to the students’ needs when something like this happens, administrators work to get systems back to normal as soon as possible.
“Many students are relying on these exams, so our goal is to try to resume instruction as soon as possible,” Booth told The Tennessean. “We are still repairing some systems on a case-by-case basis, but One-Stop is back up and running so students can access their email and online classes. Everything students need is back up.”
He also confirmed that the exam schedule will continue as posted and that if students who had Friday exams canceled opt to take an “incomplete” they will be able to work with professors to take the exam at a later date if they wish to do so.
Word about the petition was spread using the Peay mobile app, accessible to students and faculty.
Melonee Hurt covers growth and development at The Tennessean, part of the USA Today Network — Tennessee. Reach Melonee at firstname.lastname@example.org.