There is no faulting the motivations behind NSIT's recent switch to only allowing secure shell access on UNIX cluster machines. It is extremely important to ensure that University computing resources have the maximum possible protection. Unsecured access can be a major security hole, and NSIT obviously understands the importance of protecting the electronic resources of students.
NSIT's management of the shutdown did reflect some degree of shortsightedness. Many students exclusively use non-secure Telnet, and the obvious result of turning it off caused a drastic upswing in webmail usean upswing NSIT was clearly unprepared to handle. To make matters worse, those who did make preparations to use kerberized Popmail were inconvenienced by the failure of the kerberized POP daemon (the program that handles POP connections). This made for a very confusing situation.
However, part of the reason that webmail was overrun last Wednesday was the fact that many public machines in libraries and computer labs were not equipped with a secure Telnet client. This is not NSIT's fault. NSIT is in the process of installing a new mail server to meet the demands of the University community.
We do not think it is untoward to ask that NSIT provide uninterrupted e-mail service, but we realize that some amount of downtime is unavoidable and necessary to provide students, faculty and staff with the best possible service. NSIT has an incredibly tough and thankless job providing technical resources for 12,000 people who place an extremely high demand on their network. Hopefully, last Wednesday's trouble won't be repeated soon. We should all show patience with NSIT. E-mail service was only disrupted as a result of their efforts to improve service to the University Community.