Technical difficulties delay Zou Crew signups

Students criticized the online signup process after a Student Life server crash caused signups to be delayed for one day.
MU basketball's student cheering section, The Zou Crew, postponed signups due to a Student Life server crash. Despite these issues, more than 1,700 students were able to sign up. Maneater File Photo

Technical difficulties with Zou Crew's Oct. 10 signups prompted an outpouring of student frustration. The MU men's basketball student cheering section postponed signups for a day due to a Student Life server crash, according to a post from Zou Crew on its Facebook page.

Freshman Aubreyanna Wenzl said the technical issues frustrated her.

"Long story short, it was a waste of a few hours of my life," Wenzl said.

Zou Crew and the Department of Information Technology fixed the issues by the next day, but some students still encountered problems signing up. According to multiple comments on the Zou Crew Facebook page, some students attempting to sign up received a "Service Unavailable" error.

Zou Crew Director Molly Krutek said the large number of students signing up caused the technical issues.

"Students also pushing 'refresh' or 'enter' more than once gave them the error message," she said.

But Krutek said Tuesday night more than 500 people were able to sign up in the first three minutes and 1,200 signed up in the first 30 minutes.

Not all of the issues were technical. After posting on Facebook that tickets would go out to the first 500 students, Zou Crew followed up with a post saying it would accept up to 1,600 students. Some of those signing up did not know what the post meant.

"So are you giving out guaranteed tickets to the first 1600 or 500?" sophomore Tyler Morin said in a comment on the Facebook page.

Eventually, Zou Crew said anyone who received a number over 500 would receive a T-shirt and other benefits.

"The $10 members paid is not for tickets, but rather a T-shirt, giveaways, great seats, watch parties, practice with the team and other incentives they would not receive if they had not joined Zou Crew," Krutek said.

Freshman Kasey Devine said he and others felt the original announcements were confusing.

"They posted on their Facebook group just that they were extending the amount of people they were going to accept," Devine said. "That, to everyone, meant that they were extending membership to that amount of people."

Such was the not the case.

"Hundreds of students continued to sign up without reading the fine print and ended up paying for a useless, non-refundable T-shirt," Devine said. "The entire thing was absurd."

Krutek said students with numbers 501 to 1,600 will get a chance to get tickets through a student lottery. Fine print on the website said "this is nonrefundable" in red, she said.

This was Zou Crew's first foray into online signups. Previously, Zou Crew used in-person signups.

"The purpose of online signups was to make it more convenient for the students," Krutek said. "Students were able to sign up anywhere they had internet access instead of having to wait in line."

Wenzl felt in-person signups would have worked better than online signups.

"I'm only a freshman, but I heard many stories from the past about real, in-paper signups," Wenzl said. "It shows commitment for the people that actually want to and didn't just get lucky. I feel like that would have been a lot better of an option."

Many commenters on the Zou Crew Facebook page also voiced opinions that in-person signups should return.

"This was the worst way to run this," freshman John Sjobeck said on Facebook. "Some half-dedicated fan just got tickets over someone who would stand in line for 4 hours."

Krutek said Zou Crew will learn from this experience.

"We are receiving a lot of feedback, positive and negative, and using that to improve next year," she said.

Krutek did not indicate whether the online system would remain in place or if in-person signups will return.

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