Breach in UW student database causes loss of all winter quarter grades

On March 27, a day after winter quarter grades were posted, they had suddenly disappeared without a trace. Laurie Quip, an academic advisor at UW Tacoma, was the first to notice the error during a routine registration and class scheduling appointment at 10 a.m. that morning.

“They’re just….gone,” said Quip after Thursday’s shocking ordeal. “I tried to run an audit for a graduating senior, when I noticed none of the classes she took winter quarter were appearing.”

Quip claims that she then checked the student’s transcript and found all of her courses and grades had appeared except for winter quarter’s.

The Breakdown:

Quip reported the incident to her supervisor who immediately emailed the DARS — the Degree Audit Reporting System — office located at UW Seattle. Mario Boffola, the Senior Associate Registrar and Supervisor of DARS claimed his office received “dozens of similar emails from students and advisers at all three UW campuses regarding the issue.” They weren’t alone, either. Gertrude Zahl, assistant registrar of the Registration and Transcripts Office claims her small staff of five were flooded with at least 100 calls by noon. By 2 p.m. that day, the entire Office of the University of Registrar had shut down for an emergency meeting.

According to our sources, the University of Washington’s lead IT team revealed to the registrars that a virus had penetrated the Electronic Academic Records System. This system contains academics data, directory information, student demographics, holds and transcript information. It also allows UW departmental staff to access student record information and advisers to make notes for student records.

What this means:

Helen Wittman, University Registrar and Chief Officer for Enrollment Information Services, reportedly announced to the Board of Registrar’s and leadership team via email Saturday night that the loss of winter quarter grades is beyond repairment.

“Unfortunately, the damage is far too substantial,” Wittman said. “Our IT team worked non-stop Thursday and Friday without any luck retrieving the lost files. Worst case scenario, students will need to repeat their respected courses.”  

An official statement was also released by UW president Anna Blague yesterday morning, which deemed the news as “potentially devastating for our UW community.”

The Aftermath:

The news of the breach and it’s expected consequences are now reaching thousands of students in our UW community. This news is also crushing for those students who may have to repeat their courses — especially for seniors. UWT senior Natalie Fran, who anticipated receiving her degree at the end of spring quarter, explained her frustrating circumstance.  

“I’m double majoring in psychology and economics,” Fran said. “To know that the hardest required courses I’ve ever taken at UWT will need to be re-taken is simply… traumatic.”

Protests for UW to re-compensate students for lost classes are scheduled to occur later this week. There are also rumors of other students planning to sue for emotional re-compensation.

UW’s chief administrators, IT team and leaders are currently working around the clock to find solutions to quench the flames. As for the virus, they aren’t sure what to call it.

One suggestion has been the SIKE virus — Sike, happy April Fools day!