The Undergraduate Council of Students is trying to institute a policy in which student e-mail accounts could remain active after their owners have graduated. The idea was suggested by Jake Heimark '11, who said he was tired of having to keep in contact by phone with friends who had graduated.
After students graduate, their brown.edu accounts are deactivated and cannot be accessed. Alums can set up e-mail accounts with alumni.brown.edu, but doing so requires a certain amount of effort and fewer people choose to do it, Heimark said.
Heimark met last semester with Christopher Collins '11, chair of the UCS Admissions and Student Services Committee, to determine if and how they should keep working on the project. "It is nothing but good for Brown if people continue using their Brown accounts after graduation," Heimark said, because future leaders would continue to be associated with the University later on in life. Many students have already expressed support for the proposal, Heimark said.
Logistically, there have not appeared to be many "technical barriers," Heimark said. Computing and Information Services has already implemented "e-mail for life," Collins said, which means exact e-mail addresses can never be repeated in the Brown Gmail domain.
Northwestern University has started using this new system and appears to have been successful, according to both Heimark and Collins. Northwestern students are able to choose whether or not they want to keep their university e-mail accounts, set up alumni accounts or do both. Heimark said it would be optimal if these options were available to students in time for the upcoming graduation in May.
The project has received some opposition because it would not be possible to know which e-mail addresses belong to current students and employees and which do not, Collins said. But by keeping their student e-mail addresses, alums can stay connected to the University, which Collins said is "important to feel."
The University's current Electronic Mail Policy also poses an obstacle to the project, Heimark said, adding that it was instated before student e-mail accounts were hosted by Google. The next step of the project is to change this policy in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel, Heimark said. The planning group has also informed the Office of Alumni Relations about the project but has not received a response, Collins said.
More universities are interested in the possibility of keeping their school e-mail accounts activated, Collins said, noting that along with Northwestern, Columbia also maintains university e-mail addresses for the purpose of forwarding incoming e-mails to alumni accounts. Dartmouth is working on a similar project, and students have been "enthusiastic" about this possibility, said Susan Zaslaw, Dartmouth's associate director of administrative computing.