Student’s app violates policy
U Could Finish creator receives punishment
Published: Sunday, July 29, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 8, 2012 13:08
Tim Arnold, a UCF marketing student who created a website called “U Could Finish” designed to ping students the moment a spot in a class opened up, has been found in violation of university policy and placed on academic probation until the end of the 2013 spring semester.
He is being punished for two counts of violation of the UCF Golden Rule Handbook under Section 14 “Misuse of Computing and Telecommunications Resources.” The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities is also sanctioning a hold on his academic record. He must write a five- to eight-page paper on what he would do if he were placed in the role of a UCF administrator and had to update the system, take a $15 coaching session and write another five to eight pages about the outcome of the coaching session. He was also terminated from his treasurer position for the Society for Marketing Professionals through spring 2013.
Click here to see a PDF of the documents from Arnold's student conduct file.
The hearing took place Tuesday and was closed access. Two students and two faculty members were at the hearing. Student Government Association President Cortez Whatley served as Arnold’s witness at the hearing. Joel Hartman, vice provost for Information Technologies & Resources, brought the case against Arnold.
Chad Binette, associate director for UCF News & Information, said UCF staff and faculty cannot comment on a student conduct hearing.
Arnold said he didn’t seek permission to make the U Could Finish app because he felt the administration was out of touch with the needs of the students and wouldn’t understand. He had tried once before to go through appropriate channels with a different app that showed students where available parking spaces were on campus and had been frustrated with the resistance he faced.
“I went through all the appropriate channels, SGA was on board and we approached Parking Services, and they thought students wouldn’t use it,” Arnold said about his parking app design.
Arnold surveyed 172 people and said that 90 percent of the students would use the parking app.
“I put in a lot of time trying to work with the different departments to make it work, and it ended up being a huge waste of time,” Arnold said.
Arnold said he was just trying to give back to the university that had made him a better person by creating the U Could Finish app.
Arnold said he did charge a fee, but had he been trying to make a for-profit company, it would have been the worst ever.
“I put in $1,000 and made $8,” Arnold said.
The app cost 99 cents, but he gave away free promotional codes. At the time the app was shut down, 46 classes were being monitored, two of which were $3.99-paid monitors. The app came with a slider bar that allowed a student to increase or decrease the frequency of a server check. It cost 99 cents for every 4 hours and $9 to check every minute with a spectrum in between.
According to an email in Arnold’s student conduct file, which Arnold provided, a student began a similar service called “Knight Tracker,” which logged into myUCF every six minutes and ran searches. This student, whose name was redacted from the letter, received a request to cease and desist operation of his service. Arnold said he never received such a letter and did not have the opportunity to stop his service before a conduct hearing was scheduled.
Arnold said he essentially gave the program away for free and with the exception of not seeking written permission from the Provost and Executive Vice President or his or her designee as written in section B(3) of Use of Information Technologies and Resources, didn’t do anything wrong.
“I found a student that was paid $150 to drop their class,” Arnold said. “People are already doing this monetary exchange; it’s just crazy how bad students want some of these classes.”
Arnold said the app was designed to mitigate the cost of a student not getting the class they needed.
He said in light of the recent outpouring of support from the UCF community, he will likely appeal the sanctions. One of the ways he can do that is by discovery of new and significant evidence that could affect the outcome of the hearing.
“I am very certain there is new evidence out there that has come up during the hearing. The same people that have the information I need are the ones punishing me, so I can’t get it easily,” Arnold said.
Courtney Gilmartin, communications coordinator for UCF News & Information, said UCF’s schedule search page was accessed 220,000 times as often as every 60 seconds between mid-December and June. Arnold doesn’t agree.
“I think it’s completely made up,” Arnold said.
Arnold has seven days from the date of the sanction letter to appeal.
“I disagree with their numbers,” Arnold said. “Even the people on the panel said that I didn’t do anything wrong — I was just in violation of university policy.”