January 15, 2010

Advocating to preserve cMail, College Council passes resolution

cMail should not be taken away from any current student, College Council (CC) members said in a January 6 resolution, responding to NSIT’s plan to end cMail support by 2012. NSIT cited the costs of maintaining e-mail servers and the prevalence of e-mail forwarding on campus in its decision.

First-year representative Frank Alarcon drafted the resolution, which voiced CC’s opinion but does not compel University action. “Any student who has access to cMail should have access to it until they graduate. No one should part with something they rely on,” Alarcon said in an interview.

NSIT estimates that 51 percent of students already forward their e-mail to third-party providers like Google, but response from the other 49 percent prompted Alacron’s action. “This resolution was a direct response for people in my class [2013],” he said.

Even though cMail does not include features standard in commercial e-mail accounts, some students prefer it because the University provides it. “A lot of students are concerned about commercial e-mail providers,” Alacron said. Students worry about the privacy and reliability of commercial providers, he added.

The University should keep the service, the resolution said, due to the large student population still using cMail and the administration’s inability to hold commercial providers accountable.

“Students should have a choice between a service provided by the University and commercial sources,” Alarcon said.

NSIT director Greg Anderson said he welcomes further conversation with students, and thought the resolution provides an opportunity to do so.

“It’s good to hear this voice of the students,” he said. Anderson said he will be listening to students’ opinions, but is still considering what forum best suits the situation. NSIT will implement the plan that has the most student support.

“There are reasons for a longer transition [away from cMail]. No matter what, we do need to maintain and upgrade the existing cMail system,” Anderson said.

Any resources used to keep cMail operational, however, drain funds from other projects, though Anderson was vague as to what those projects could be.

“I don’t have a particular preferred outcome except that we’ve got multiple competing resources,” he said.