The GW e-mail sever has been down for more than five days, probably the longest most GW students have gone without being able to check their e-mail. While it is tempting to run and blame the University for the communications meltdown, other factors should be considered.
Although this might seem like just another small technical glitch like that of the past, it most certainly is not. There was a severe hardware failure – not just a jam up on the Webmail site. There are experienced people spending an obscene amount of time trying to fix the problem – one engineer worked nearly 31 hours straight. Sun Microsystems is flying in experts from as far away as California to get a grasp of what exactly happened here. It is not the direct fault of any person or group that e-mail at GW has been down for nearly a week.
While there is no doubt that losing access to campus e-mail is a severe inconvenience to students and faculty alike, there is no legitimacy, however, to blame Information Systems and Services. Yes, we expect GW to have a working e-mail server and e-mail is an essential communication tool, but sometimes technology fails and needs to be fixed. It is encouraging to see the response of the technology employees at GW – as they obviously take this personally and show a deep commitment to the GW community.
While this e-mail snafu cannot necessarily be blamed on GW administrators, there are lessons to be learned from the incident. Technology officials are planning to install a backup system that could prevent such extended e-mail blackouts. It will probably take a rather significant financial commitment by GW to see this through, but if the outrage of the past few days is any precedent, it is definitely worth the investment.