USG signals support for Gmail as replacement
OIT recently polled a group of 150 students who piloted the two options. The students participating in the pilot were chosen from those who replied to an earlier campus-wide email.
Of the 150 students who tested the products, only two chose to use Office 365. U-Councilor Lily Alberts ’13 said that this was likely due to pilot users’ prior familiarity with Gmail.
Features of a new webmail system would include searchable contacts for all students and professors, a 25-gigabyte email quota and the ability to download data from documents and emails after the account expires. A migration feature that allows folders to be transferred from WebMail to either Gmail or Office 365 would also be included.
According to testing results, the consensus is that there are “many benefits and no drawbacks,” Chen said.
Chen said in an email that because Gmail was preferred by the pilot testers, it “makes sense” to recommend Google Apps as the default service while offering Office 365 as a secondary option.
During testing, Class of 2014 senator Dillon Sharp ’14, who is piloting Gmail, said he came across a problem with the server. Sharp said that he is unable to log into his personal Google account while piloting the new webmail service.
“OIT is committed to providing support to help students figure [that] out,” Chen said. According to a USG document prepared by Chen, OIT felt that “integration with their environment [and] support was successful.”
If the Office of the Provost approves this recommendation, the Class of 2016 will be the first class to have either Gmail or Office 365 as its primary server. Other classes would be given the option to switch to either Gmail or Office 365.
The University will either offer Google Apps to all students, Office 365 to all students or make one of the servers the default while allowing students to choose to use the other. A final option is not to switch to either server.
If USG and OIT choose to recommend Google Apps, the USG will have to decide whether to offer just the core applications — such as Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Talk — or also offer supplemental applications like Blogger, YouTube and Google+.
Faculty and graduate students, however, would still have to use WebMail.
U-Councilor Amy Ridgeway ’12 asked Chen whether any technical issues would arise if the faculty continued to use WebMail while undergraduates switched to either Gmail or Office 365.
“Function would not be affected,” Chen said.
The Senate and Chen will together offer a final recommendation to OIT, which will then include the USG’s opinion in its own recommendation to the Office of the Provost.
The Senate also took the first of two votes to move the election of the social chair to the winter election cycle when the rest of the executive committee is elected. Because this change requires a constitutional amendment, the Senate will have to vote again on the change at its meeting next week.
The amendment, which required a two-thirds majority to pass, was approved by an 18-to-2 margin, with one member abstaining.
Easop explained afterward that moving the election of the social chair to the winter will ease the planning of fall Lawnparties. New social chairs elected in the spring have difficulty navigating the USG and administration during the summer, he said.
The social chair election was moved from the winter to spring of 2001.