Student housing response slowed by site glitch
'My Home at Penn' was taken offline for repairs while students selected housing for 2013-2014
March 20, 2013, 12:29 am·
When you rely on a computer program to select your housing for the next year, you might panic if it crashes.
On March 14, during the general selection period for the in-house housing selection process, students experienced glitches with “My Home at Penn,” the University’s online application system, while choosing where they wanted to live for the 2013-2014 school year.
Students using the website “experienced a slower response than normal, in some cases [with the website] timing out before being able to complete their room selection,” Director of Residential Services John Eckman said. “Due to this problem, the decision was made to take the system offline.”
Once the system was taken offline, impacted students were notified by the Housing Office on Thursday morning at 9:50 am by email, which read: “We are currently experiencing technical issues regarding My Home At Penn. We are working hard to resolve these issues…”
Approximately 12 hours later, the Housing Office sent out a link to an online survey through which students could submit their room preferences.
The email also assured students all In-House selection rules still applied — assignments will still be determined based on students’ original assigned selection times, and students would be notified with their assignments by 12 p.m. on Monday, March 18.
“We were able to reach an interim solution,” Eckman said.
Diliana Dimitrova, a sophomore in the College and Wharton, planned to apply for housing in Harrison College House and was one of the students who experienced issues with the site. “My Home at Penn” was completely offline when she attempted to access the site. She ultimately submitted her housing requests via the online survey.
Dimitrova was “annoyed and somewhat frustrated” when the system crashed because her housing assignment for the next year was uncertain.
“You didn’t know whether you would actually get your assignment in or not,” she said. “It definitely wasn’t ideal because we didn’t know where we would be living.”
Eckman said that despite the issues with the website, “all students who wished to apply were able to submit applications, and room assignments were made with no loss of integrity to the assignment process.”
All In-House applications that were submitted through the online survey were sorted by the Housing office.
By Friday morning, students were able to use “My Home at Penn” for Inter-House selection.
An email sent to students at approximately 10:30 a.m. said, “Students are still able to submit their Inter-House Application via My Home At Penn. However, due to high volume this process may take longer than anticipated. The time an application is submitted does not impact your room selection prioritization. We are working hard to resolve this issue.”
The email also explained that students could receive updates via Twitter in addition to the email updates.
According to Eckman, the Inter-House selection process, which begins at 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 21, is “anticipated to move forward as planned.”
“We are working with the vendor to investigate the cause of the problem, and that work continues,” he added.
Students with questions or concerns regarding housing assignments can contact the Housing Assignments Office by sending an email to living@UPenn.edu or by calling 215-898-8271.