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Move from Webmail server must be better publicized

Credit: Braden Kelner/Forum Editor Credit: Braden Kelner/Forum Editor

Carnegie Mellon Computing Services is officially transitioning all undergraduate student email services to Google Apps this fall. New students received this service on Aug. 16, while upperclass students will transition from the existing SquirrelMail this weekend. The Computing Services website states that as part of this change students will have email, calendar, and document services available through Google, in addition to 30 gigabytes of digital storage. Students will be able to log in to this service using their Andrew ID and password, and there are numerous scheduled times during which Computing Services will be available to answer questions.

Moving to Google Apps is an excellent decision by the university, but it must be heavily advertised to the student body before the transition occurs. Currently, only one email about transition support was sent to the entire campus community, reminding students to empty their trash and spam folders to ensure a smooth transition.

Many other institutions now use Google to host their mail, and many Carnegie Mellon students have personal Gmail addresses and forward their Andrew email to these accounts. While the update to SquirrelMail at the beginning of the previous school year was a marked improvement, it has become clear that an application provider like Google is far more effective at providing reliable, easy-to-use mail services. Through this transition, students also gain the use of services such as Google Calendar and Google Docs to collaborate and work with others, in addition to the extra storage space.

In order to better publicize this move, Computing Services must make students aware of the in-depth documentation it has on its website concerning the move. The documentation covers topics like login information, mobile device setup, and frequently asked questions. This information, or the link to the website, should also be dispersed through email and placed in prominent locations on campus for students to view.

If Computing Services does not publicize the move to Google Apps well before the transition occurs for upperclassmen, students could encounter technical problems that they are not prepared for. More importantly, they could lose correspondence that they left unattended in SquirrelMail.

The confusion that students may encounter once the move occurs could be avoided if all students are explicitly aware of the changes and of all Google programs available.