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University of Michigan internet outage wreaks havoc on first day of class

Michael Jacobs, a first-year student, talks with Carol Righi, as they try to find details about his classes on Monday. (Bridge photo by Isabel Lohman)
  • U-M students had a chaotic first day of classes Monday after the university shut down the internet following a security concern
  • That made it hard for students to access course schedules and reading materials
  • The university said online services would likely not be fully restored for several days

Aug. 30: University of Michigan restores internet access, still mum on security issue

ANN ARBOR —The University of Michigan’s first day of fall classes began with a whimper Monday, with internet outages on all three U-M campuses. 

Students at the Ann Arbor campus told Bridge Michigan they had trouble accessing their student email and the university portal with class schedules. Some students said they could access Canvas, the learning management system that holds class syllabi and assignments. 

Michael Jacobs, a first-year student, stopped by a help tent on central campus to get information on his schedule. He knew he had two classes Monday but didn’t know the specific location or the name of his 1 p.m. course. 

“I’m just lost, I don’t know where to go or what to do; obviously, other people are feeling the same way,” he told Bridge Michigan. 


Administrative officials said a security concern prompted the temporary shutdown of internet service, which is not expected to be fully restored until later in the week.

“The team is working around the clock and already has restored access to some systems,” the officials said, but it “may be several days before all online services return to their normal levels.”

Officials said the outage does not seem to be the same across all three campuses. As of fall 2022, there were about 65,000 students across the three campuses and about 54,000 faculty and staff across the campuses and hospitals.

Students affected by an internet outage at the University of Michigan could ask for help inside Mason Hall on Monday. The university’s first day of classes were affected by the university’s decision to cut off its internet. (Bridge photo by Isabel Lohman)

“Sunday afternoon, after careful evaluation of a significant security concern, we made the intentional decision to sever our ties to the internet,” university officials said in an update Monday at 1:50 p.m. “We took this action to provide our information technology teams the space required to address the issue in the safest possible manner.”

The university said its wired and wifi internet was still down mid-Monday afternoon but Google, Canvas, Zoom and other cloud services were back online and people could access them using off-campus and mobile internet. Until the full system is up and running, the university referred students to a PDF and spreadsheet that lists class locations and times.  

Jacobs, the first year student, said he has been able to get onto his email but can’t get to Canvas or Wolverine Access, which includes financial information and class schedules. 

“I’m a little worried about the class but at the same time, everybody is going through it, so I doubt it will be too big a deal.”

Sophomore Beth Light used the PDF to find the location of her second class. In her first class, she said her Spanish instructor was unable to take attendance because Canvas was down. 

“Next semester, I won’t wait until the last minute to check where everything is,” she said with a laugh. 

Aryan Samanta, a sophomore studying kinesiology, told Bridge he was “annoyed” about the outage and that he had thought the school would solve the issue Sunday ahead of his four Monday classes.  

“We were basically sitting around doing nothing because the professors were scrambling,” he said about his movement science class. 

But Ava Janosz, a first-year student from Bloomfield Hills, said she and fellow first-year students are making it work.

“We’re dealing with it, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s definitely inconvenient.”

The university said “consideration will be given” to students who miss a class due to the outage. 

Financial aid refunds “may be delayed” because of the outage and students will not incur late registration fees during August.

Law professor Beth Wilensky was also rolling with the punches. She teaches two sections of a class for first-year law students. Typically, students are expected to complete readings before class and then the first classes are about how to identify important information and synthesize ideas from multiple court opinions. 

“The class only works if people have been able to access and do the reading,” the professor told Bridge Monday morning. 

But with the outage, Wilensky emailed students Sunday night telling them not to worry if they were unable to read before class. 

“I’ve taught through COVID, I've practiced law through a lot of different, crazy things,” she said. “I’m pretty calm about stuff.  I was just worried about my students being anxious.”

All of her 18 students in her Monday morning classes had at least skimmed required readings.

Riya Narayan and Emma Zhang, two first-year students who went to high school in Ann Arbor, found other ways to take class notes since Google Drive was down earlier Monday. (Bridge photo by Isabel Lohman)

Riya Narayan, a first year political science student, said she had walked through her schedule two days ago. Her friend, Emma Zhang, also a first-year student, hadn’t. 

Without access to Google Drive, Narayan took notes using a notebook while Zhang used the notes app on her computer.

Monika Dressler, Director of Academic Technology for the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, said she has handed out about 10 flash drives with the course schedules to university employees Monday morning.

“We’re just trying to help any way we can,” Dressler said.

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