Home' Campus Technology : April 2014 Contents CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | April 2014
platform for an LMS-like purpose, she recalled. But the
consensus was that IT shouldn't spend its time trying to
figure out an appropriate platform, "because, in fact, the
faculty respond to what the students bring in every semes-
ter. These things evolve quickly, and the faculty want to
adapt to what the students are using."
When students and alumni decided the college needed
a portal, they called on IT to work with them, which IT did
--- "for a while." Then, recalled Kossuth, IT stepped away,
handed them some parameters for the work to be done,
paid for a cloud-based development environment and told
them that if the results ended up being something IT could
deploy, then IT would take over support of the portal.
"Well, it took a number of years, but eventually, they
came up with something. They realized how challenging
some things could be," said Kossuth. Both sides altered
"expectations and specifications" and ultimately a portal
was developed that has since been transitioned over to IT.
Controls Have Their Place
None of this means IT simply rolls over when a student beck-
ons. In cases where students want to set up their own com-
ponents, such as a server, IT works with them. "We control
the parsing out of IP addresses," Kossuth explained. And one
of the rules for setting up the server is that it has to be
checked out by the college's network team to make sure it's
properly secured. "When it takes students up to six months
sometimes to figure out how to harden it correctly, they learn
a lot from that process about how easy things are and aren't.
They learn a lot about due diligence and what's necessary."
If students want to experiment with an application, such
as a new chat client, Olin will help them figure out where it
can safely be installed, such as in the cloud. To support and
fund those efforts, students can apply for academic innova-
tion grants from the academic affairs office. But to get
something adopted institution-wide, said Kossuth, just like
in the real world, "ultimately you have to come back with a
proposal and help convince people that this is where we
should spend their scarce enterprise resources."
Kossuth said auditors ask her all the time, "Don't you
worry about the internal threat?" Her response: Yes. But
the college has a process in place for dealing with aber-
rant behavior and an honor code that backs a hard line. For
instance, students aren't allowed to deploy their own wire-
less access points. "The first time we'll call the student in
and explain to them, 'Okay, now the guys in robotics can-
not do what they need to do; these people can't do what
they need to do because you're mucking up the spectrum
by having your points.'" Because the students as a whole
are "fairly technical," they understand that they're causing
an impact on others that's negative. Often, that's enough
to fix the problem.
For the "second conversation," however, IT will take the
case to the honor board. Explained Kossuth, "When you're
in higher ed, you know they're here to learn, and you try to
help them learn. When you've given them the opportunity
to learn and it's not working, there needs to be some other
Student Involvement Across the Board
Students participate up and down in the college. There's
a student IT working group that meets on a regular basis.
A sustainability steering committee has students on it.
Students serve on the emergency planning committee, the
dining advisory board and practically any other group that
meets and makes decisions on campus. Their role, said
Kossuth, is to "get the word back to the rest of their col-
leagues, the students."
"A lot of schools talk about how they're so student-
centric," Kossuth noted. "When you scratch beneath the
surface, they're not necessarily all that different. At Olin it's
not just the approach that gets taken in the classroom, but
that our students serve on all kinds of committees, up to
the board level. Our students are really partners in building
the education at Olin."
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for
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