Data science class mistakenly enrolls 54 waitlisted students

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On Monday, 54 students were mistakenly enrolled in “Foundations of Data Science,” or Data 8. This incident occurred only days before the add/drop deadline, resulting in difficulties for those who changed their schedules based on this false enrollment assumption.

The mistake occurred because of a large increase in student and staff use of the enrollment website in wake of the add/drop deadline Wednesday, according to Susanne Kauer, the executive director for the Center of Student Affairs in the electrical engineering and computer sciences, or EECS, department. Kauer added that the strain on the system resulted in “unusual system behavior,” such as a lag in screen response time.

“Although we intended to only to fill the open seats in (Data 8), the screen froze mid-action, and the entire waitlist of 54 students was added to the course,” Kauer said.

The enrollment manager responsible for the error contacted the Student Information Systems help desk — however there was no way to reverse the error until the next morning, according to Kauer.

Campus professor in the EECS department, David Wagner, who co-teaches the class, notified students about the error over the website Piazza. A number of students commented saying that they had dropped their backup classes upon seeing that they were enrolled in Data 8, which now put them below the unit minimum. Wagner responded by urging the affected students to re-enroll in their dropped classes.

“If you dropped another course because of this before learning of the situation, and I can’t get back into that course and this is negatively affecting you, please email Cindy Conners with the details of your situation right away,” Wagner said in the Piazza thread.

Everyone who was mistakenly enrolled in the course was added back to the waitlist in the order that they had previously occupied. Five students who had been deemed “significantly impacted” were given accommodations.

Kauer also explained that all students who received a late add fee because of the false enrollment will receive a refund in their accounts within 10 business days. The data science department has never experienced an error like this in the past, according to Kauer.

“The Department is very sorry for the inconvenience that this has caused for the affected students,” said Kauer in an email.

Contact Shelby Mayes at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @shelbymayesdc.