You Had One Job, SCS. One Job.

Is this the last thing the admissions software saw?
Is this the last thing the admissions software saw?

readme is proud to announce that Carnegie Mellon has recently joined a most prestigious group of colleges that includes MIT, Vassar, Johns Hopkins, and Cambridge University. Like these esteemed university before us, CMU has been recognized for its great achievement in ironically fucking up the one thing it’s supposed to be good at. You probably know where we’re going with this.


Now, it should be noted that pretty much every media outlet has already forgotten about the story by this point, and trying to write something new about it would be the equivalent beating a dead horse, but fuck that, readme prints too infrequently to be timely! So, for those of you not in the loop, what happened is that CMU’s School of Computer Science had sent out around 800 acceptance letters to its prestigious master’s of science program, only to inform the lucky ‘acceptees’ seven hours later that they had not been accepted after all.


The story quickly spread through social and mainstream media, most likely due to the sheer irony of one of the top tech schools in the country fumbling their basic email skills. Of course, this technical snafu is no shock to anyone who actually goes here, where faulty projectors, wifi issues, and printer troubles abound (seriously, CMU. If you have a computer lab where all of the computers run Linux, get a printer that actually prints LibreOffice docs!), but we suppose non-CMU people might still get a chuckle out of it.


Since then, Dean of SCS Andrew Moore has spoken to CMU reporters about the incident. He explained that the ‘mishap’ was a result of three separate errors that all had to occur for the incorrect emails to be sent. Probably what he means with this is that the emails were a freak accident unlikely to happen again. But what readme finds interesting about this statement is that it means the SCS department fucked up on no less than three separate occasions here. That bespeaks of a little more than just a freak thing.


According to sources, the department is in the midst of a “detailed software postmortem” also referred to as an “autopsy” on the software that was used during the debacle. Which…hang on. Are they saying that the software they were using is dead somehow? How does that even work? Did the SCS department kill it? Did it fail them for the last time and now it’s swimming with the fishes? Sure, it didn’t exactly work as intended, but…readme needs to take a moment to process this.


So, anyways, what did we learn from this? Maybe that just because something can be done automatically, doesn’t mean it should, even when you’re the number one tech school in the country. SCS has decided that, in light of this incident, Dean Moore will be personally signing off on everything done in the admissions system for the rest of the year, and all admissions will be sent off individually. Maybe this new human oversight is just what we need to prevent further incidents in the future.


Or maybe too much human oversight is the problem. Maybe the real solution is to have our CS grad students usher in the technological singularity so the computers can write new, error-free code for our acceptance letters. Sure, maybe the next intake of CMU computer science grads will be exclusively meat puppets chosen for their efficiency in bio-electrically powering our robot overlords, but at least we’ll be able to say their acceptance was intentional this time.

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