UC Calls on HUIT to Extend HarvardKey Deadline

UPDATED: April 11, 2016, at 8:09 p.m.

After a contentious debate, the Undergraduate Council sent a letter Sunday calling on Harvard University Information Technology to extend the deadline for undergraduates to sign up for HarvardKey, the University’s new authentication system that affiliates can use to log in to Harvard’s online services.

The previous authentication system for undergraduates, whereby students log in to online services using a Harvard University ID number and a PIN, is set to expire in June, according to HUIT. Afterward, only HarvardKey users can log in to some services, including Microsoft Office 365, according to HUIT’s website. Undergraduates who do not claim their HarvardKey in time will still have access to Harvard email and my.harvard services.

At the meeting, UC members debated legislation that said the deadline for undergraduates to claim their HarvardKey was April 20. Sponsors of the legislation worried that undergraduates would miss the initial deadline for claiming the new login service. The UC ultimately passed legislation calling on HUIT to extend the deadline.

After the UC’s meeting, the Education Committee sent a letter to HUIT detailing the Council’s stance. The following day, HUIT chief technology officer Jason Snyder responded to members of the UC clarifying that the deadline for undergraduates to claim their HarvardKey is June 1, and that the April 20 deadline only applies to "[f]aculty, staff, and other non-student members of the College."

In their letter the UC had expressed concern that an April 20 deadline would add an extra burden to students in the midst of exams.

“Considering that students have experienced difficulty in the past creating and using their Harvar[d]Key and that the current deadline to create a HarvardKey occurs when students will be completing midterms and preparing for finals, we ask that the deadline be moved to some point in the summer,” the letter states.

Before approving the legislation, the UC held a prolonged debate with many representatives arguing that the body should first speak to HUIT before passing any legislation on the matter.

“It's unprofessional for us as a Council to send a really combative statement to a Harvard office without doing the legwork of reaching out to them to hear their side of the story,” Rules Committee Chair Daniel R. Levine ’17, an inactive Crimson editor, said. “I'm against taking a stance on something when we don't have all of the facts.”

UC President Shaiba Rather ’17, who ultimately voted against the legislation, said that helping HUIT publicize the upcoming deadline would be valuable, but that having a firm deadline was important.

“I do think that there’s a deadline in place for a reason. Deadlines are usually important in getting people to actually sign up for things,” Rather said. “The more we push back things, the less people will actually sign up.”

Still, several representatives—including UC Vice President Daniel V. Banks ’17, who voted for the legislation—agreed that many undergraduates were unaware of what they thought was an upcoming April HarvardKey deadline.

“I didn’t even know about the April 20 deadline,” Ivy Yard representative Scott Xiao ’19 said. “Now that it’s come up, I’m not even sure that I’m on HarvardKey… The potential danger of students being locked out of their information… is much more severe than the potential security risks of having one or two more months of the old system.”

In the letter to HUIT, the UC offered to assist with the publicization of the HarvardKey regardless of whether or not the deadline is extended.

The legislation passed with 20 representatives voting in favor of it and 16 opposing it. Three representatives abstained.

During the Council’s Sunday meeting, the UC also voted to allocate $3,575 in grants under the Grant for an Open Harvard College, and $10,749 in regular grants.

—Staff writer Brian P. Yu can be reached at brian.yu@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @brianyu28.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: April 11, 2016

A previous version of this article, citing UC legislation, indicated that the deadline for undergraduates to register their HarvardKey was April 20. In fact, the deadline is June 1. The article has been updated to include an email from HUIT chief technology officer Jason Snyder to the UC clarifying this date. A previous version of the article also included a quote from Cabot House representative Christopher B. Cruz ’17 criticizing HUIT for the April deadline. This quote has since been removed.

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