Alumni need to find alternative e-mail accounts by June 2, after GW informed graduates this month the University will terminate their “@gwu.edu” accounts.
Although GW has allowed alumni since the class of 1999 to use their accounts indefinitely, administrators recently decided to cut the service because of high costs and e-mail volume.
Alumni will be able to sign up for new “@alumni.gwu.edu” accounts in June, which will act strictly act as forwarding addresses that bounce all e-mails to alternate addresses, such as Yahoo or America Online accounts.
However, former students will be unable to send and receive e-mail or view old messages stored on their GW mail accounts with their new “@alumni.gwu.edu” accounts.
All future graduates will be subject to the new policy, although no details have been provided to this year’s graduating class.
Director of Advancement Creative Services Andrea Marsh sent an e-mail April 8 to all alumni affected by the new service.
Information Systems and Services Technical Director Ron Bonig said increasing e-mail volume and use – equaling increased costs – necessitated the policy change. Bonig also said the “exponential growth” of GW’s e-mail use in recent years resulted in more junk e-mail spiraling through University servers, which in turn raised University e-mail costs.
Bonig declined to release specific figures.
“It just isn’t possible for the GW system to carry this many accounts indefinitely without causing technical difficulties and significant expenses,” Bonig said.
An outside company unaffiliated with GW’s ISS department will manage the forwarding accounts.
Although alumni e-mail accounts were not directly to blame for e-mail outages in late January – which left students without e-mail access for a few weeks – technology officials said the extra accounts played a part in preventing officials from bringing the service up sooner.
“The very large number of alumni accounts that were totally filled, mostly with spam, dramatically increased the time it took to institute any efforts to bring the system back up,” Bonig said. “The mail store was taking over 24 hours to restore … and when errors occurred, restarting the process and continuing the restore took an inordinate amount of time.”
Bonig said the large number of inactive alumni e-mail accounts significantly increased the amount of e-mail coursing though the University’s network.
E-mails sent to a full account would bounce or turn up undeliverable, prompting the server to notify the sender with an e-mail stating the account was full, further increasing mail volume.
Bonig said while the University never specifically guaranteed lifetime e-mail access, he said he understood why recent alumni expected unlimited use.
Several recent graduates said they are upset with the University’s decision to cut off alumni accounts.
Brad Simon, a 2002 graduate, said the loss of his e-mail account will have an adverse effect on his law school application process.
“It’s just going to be a big hassle having to notify all the schools I applied to in writing about the e-mail address change,” Simon said. “It just would have been nice to know about this a little sooner.”
Andrew Mescolotto, a 2001 Elliot School of International Affairs graduate, sent a letter to GW administrators expressing concern about the discontinuation of his account. He said his GW account was his primary means of contact with friends and family and with the law schools to which he is seeking admission in the fall.
Mescolotto said he views the termination of his e-mail account as a promise broken by GW.
“When I was young, one of the first lessons my parents taught me was to never break a promise,” Mescolotto wrote. “You have the power to make this situation right. Please don’t let them take away our alumni e-mail accounts.”