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Student organization Google accounts deactivated at start of semester

University of Minnesota student organizations leaders went to IT to get their accounts reactivated after issues caused disruptions to their operations.
Image by Mary Ellen Ritter

Several University of Minnesota student organizations faced log-in issues with their groups’ Google accounts at the beginning of the semester as a result of their accounts being deactivated.

Students managing their organization’s account reported issues with accessing their accounts despite using their appropriate log-in credentials, causing disruptions to their usual operations. While deactivations are a common IT problem, some students claimed they failed to receive reminders from the University about renewing their accounts.

Clara Smith, website manager for Minnesota Quidditch, which participates in intramural competitions with other schools, said the organization was in the middle of selling tickets for an upcoming event when they experienced log-in issues with their Google account.

Smith thought the issues were caused by someone changing the password, but she noticed the organization’s profile picture was missing when she was logging into their website host.

“Not being able to log in to our website to see our orders was really scary,” Smith said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what if we lose our sales, what if we can’t get into our website, we won’t be able to see who ordered our stuff.’”

Smith, who studies information technology infrastructure, believed there was more to the situation than just a simple password issue because their website host, which is a program that creates website domains and layouts, was showing their account did not exist.

“I am more comfortable with technology than the average person and was able to pick up on that,” Smith said. “If you’re not as familiar with technology, you might not have noticed such a tiny little detail.”

After the issue lasted for several days, Smith did some research online and went to the IT office in Coffman Union, where the account was restored in 10 minutes. According to Smith, the student worker who assisted her while she was there told her the organization’s account was deactivated, a routine issue for UMN IT.

“All student organization University emails must be renewed annually,” according to Assistant Director of Student Activities Marissa Suiter in an email to the Minnesota Daily. “Office of Information Technology (OIT) sends a notification email to the student organization email account and the designated key contact one month prior to the renewal date, and then weekly reminders.”

OIT enacted this renewal policy in 2021 to improve information security and was communicated to all student groups, according to Suiter. Suiter also said reminders about the renewal process are included in the Student Union and Activities student group newsletter.

According to Suiter, checking emails regularly and renewing their password as soon as they get the notice to renew email a month before the renewal deadline will help avoid deactivations.

Alexus Nguyen, secretary for VERA, a multicultural sorority interest group, said she did not receive any notifications to renew the group’s account.

Nguyen was glad the issue was resolved by the beginning of the semester because they were worried about losing their important documents and way of communicating through the account.

“We had a really important presentation we had to do for our org, and our main form of communication was through email with the people we had to do the presentation with,” Nguyen said. “It was really frustrating, me and Angelin [the president] would be texting each other and were super stressed and nervous.”

Baqir Noor, the president of the Co-Interest Group in Neurology (Co-SIGN), which brings professionals from the medical field and undergraduate students together for networking opportunities, said he did receive an email from OIT and had reset the password as instructed, so he was surprised the account was deactivated.

“I was very confused. I thought there may have been some sort of mistake with our password reset, and I was trying all the old passwords and nothing would work,” Noor said.

Since the issues were resolved, organizations have experienced no additional issues.

“We logged in, and all of the orders that had happened during that time were there,” Smith said. “Luckily, it didn’t delete our website, and we were still able to do our fundraiser [with] no problem.”

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