Students cope without e-mail

Students said they realized how much they rely on technology for communication after water flooded the Academic Center last Friday, causing an e-mail shutdown that lasted throughout the weekend.

We’re dependent on e-mail, said junior Jenny Cardona. It is the easiest way to contact professors. That is why a lot of students were affected by the lack of e-mail.

Junior Jocelyn Needel said she believed that e-mail is used more for communication on campus than phones.

I was trying to arrange a group meeting through e-mail, she said. Because of the e-mail failure I didn’t get the e-mails from that conversation until Sunday morning.

Other students experienced similar setbacks.

My chemistry (teaching assistant) e-mailed information that was needed to do questions on our post-lab report, but since I couldn’t get to my e-mail I couldn’t get that information, freshmen Puja Valiyil said.

Charles Spann, interim director of Information Technology Services, agreed that the students and faculty are dependent on e-mail for communication.

E-mail is an integral part of GW’s distance-learning programs, and is encouraged by faculty who use Prometheus in their classes, he said. E-mail is also the preferred method for many researchers to submit grant proposals.

The 24,000 students and faculty who use Webmail were unable to access their e-mail accounts between Friday and Sunday morning, Spann said. This left people who use Webmail as their only form of electronic mail without a means to communicate online.

It’s easier to communicate with e-mail because the person doesn’t have to be there to get the message, and the information will be transferred in seconds, Needel said.

Although the e-mail shutdown precluded students from receiving their e-mail, they did not lose any of the mail that was sent to them during the breakdown, Spann said.

Most major e-mail server packages that GW receives mail from queue mail for a period of five days, Spann said.

Spann said the flood caused a drive failure to the GWMail system. ITS replaced the damaged drives and cleaned the system by hand.

ISS is closely monitoring the systems for future problems which might arise as a result of the flood, Spann said.

Although the shutdown disrupted the activities of some students, not all students were affected by the shutdown.

It was just a minor annoyance, freshman Leo Nemirovsky said. I have the phone numbers of all the people I communicate with on e-mail so if I can’t reach them online I can just call.

The e-mail system shut down was just one of the casualties of the flood in the main machine room in the basement of the Academic Center. There was also damage to the Visitors Center and offices in the basement, said Walter Gray, director of Facilities Management.

The main damage was to light fixtures, ceilings and carpets in these areas, Gray said.

The areas affected by the flood, however, are not areas that students typically frequent, Gray said. He said he did not believe it would affect students’ use of the Academic Center.

Gray said most of the repairs have already been made except for the carpet, which will be replaced later this week.

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