Staff editorial: WhatMail?

Nearly 6.5 million e-mails are processed each month through Webmail and about one in six e-mails contain a virus. This massive load of messages and corrupt files obviously creates havoc on GW’s only e-mail server, as Webmail went down Friday afternoon for at least 48 hours – leaving students cut off from their usual information flow.

Technology officials say upgrades are underway, but it is easy to be skeptical of any improvements. Students have been promised smoother service for months. The system went down most recently due to a “severe hardware failure,” but it seems like it is always some new malfunction that keeps e-mail from running smoothly at GW.

The University has shown a commitment to online technology and usability by upgrading www.gwu.edu and equipping GWeb with a host of new functions, including class registration and housing selection, but administrators do not equally invest in a consistently working e-mail system.

This exemplifies GW’s attitude towards many improvements on campus. For instance, the University builds expensive new buildings with amazing capability, but it does not always concentrate proportionately on the professors in the buildings and the material they teach.

GW should concentrate more on substance. It is nice to have a sharp Web site, but it is better to behave a working e-mail server.

E-mail has become an essential tool of academia in the 21st century, replacing phone calls, handouts and other communiqu?. It is often how teachers communicate with students and how students communicate with each other and the outside world.

As GW continues to wonder why students report they are among the most unhappy in the country, administrators would be wise to consider how inconveniences like a down Web mail server plays into the mind of a typical college student.

To answer their queries, students would rather have top-ranked professors in Monroe Hall than multi-million dollar classroom facilities and a working e-mail system rather than a flashy school Web site.

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