University of Central Florida senior Tim Arnold came up with a way to help fellow students find the classes they needed: a website called UCouldFinish.com that alerted them when a spot opened up.
But Arnold’s innovation has landed him in hot water with the university, which put him on probation and ordered him to write two research papers about the error of his ways. He is appealing the punishment.
The trouble started for Arnold, a marketing major, after he created the website. It plugged into the school’s registration server through a public portal, allowed students to search for classes and sent a text message when a class became available. That notification is something the school’s official online-registration site does not do.
“I heard from a lot of students that they had a hard time finding classes with the school’s site and were tired of being told to keep searching the site,” said the 22-year-old student from Jupiter, Fla. “There had to be a better way. I’ve always been taught to think outside the box, and this was my solution.”
The service, whose name was a nod to the often-used UCF moniker of U Can’t Finish, searched the servers for free but charged students a starting fee of 99 cents for the text feature, Arnold said. The cost could increase to as much as $3.99 to search more often.
Even though Arnold did not hack into the school’s servers, University of Central Florida officials were not pleased. They said Arnold’s website was tying up university computers and that Arnold was violating policy by profiting from a university resource.