Students opt-in to Gmail

Since announcing the start of the campus-wide switch to Gmail on Jan. 1, Computing and Information Technology has been spreading the word and assisting the campus in transitioning to the new email platform.

Members of the CIT professional staff have been tabling in the College Union for the past two weeks in order to inform the campus and assist students and faculty in setting up their Gmail accounts.

According to technology support professional Nik Varrone, the decision to switch to Gmail was decided based on student demand.

“A lot of students didn’t like Geneseo webmail. Based on tech surveys that we conducted, students specifically said that they would prefer Gmail,” Varrone said.

CIT also communicated with the student body via Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms to gather feedback on CIT services. 

According to both Varrone and Laurie Fox, CIT assistant director and manager of user services, one of the inspirations for changing the email system was the lack of storage space in webmail. In terms of storage capacity, Fox explained that Gmail is an upgrade from Roundcube Webmail, with the ability to hold 50 times more information. Gmail can hold 25 gigabytes of information, whereas webmail was able to hold only 100 megabytes of information.

According to Fox, CIT was inspired by other SUNY campuses that have switched to Google programs and ultimately decided over summer 2012 to make a full transition. About two years ago CIT began implementing features associated with Google, like Google Calendars and more recently Google Docs. 

In switching to Gmail on campus, Fox said that it would make using other Google programs easier. “It was very confusing,” Fox said, specifically regarding the use of the Google Docs program. “It will make using Google Docs in class so much easier because everyone will have the Geneseo Google account.”

“Most students, before they come to college, already have a personal email account, and chances are it’s with Google. So users are already familiar with how Gmail looks and works, and they don’t have to learn webmail,” Fox said.

Throughout the transitional period, webmail will continue to be accessible for users to access old emails. Users also have the option to move pre-existing emails to their new Gmail accounts. 

“We have seen people opting-in every day since Jan. 1. So that’s significant,” Fox said. “People are picking what time works best for them to make the switch.”

As of Tuesday morning, 3,000 of the 8,000 Geneseo webmail users had made the switch to Gmail. If webmail users have not voluntarily opted-in to Gmail by April 1, CIT will automatically enact the campus-wide switch on that date.