The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Boston College has decided to stop offering students e-mail accounts beginning next year. Instead they have set up an e-mail forwarding system, so each student is assigned a Boston College alias that then forwards to whatever personal e-mail system the students are using.
Some of the comments reflect what seems to be the prevailing IT view in academia about university-provided e-mail accounts: if they don’t use the e-mail account we give them, we can’t be sure any e-mails our faculty/administrators send actually reach them.
Which is certainly true. Just as it is true that unless we assign all students on-campus mailboxes that they must check, we can’t be certain any snail mail we send them actually reaches them. And unless assign students to a university-provided voice mail system that they must check on a regular basis, we cannot be certain any phone calls we make to students will actually reach them.
I’ve never understood the rationale for treating e-mail communications any different in this regard from voice/physical mail accounts. Most students would find having to manage a university voice mail/physical mailbox system a major headache, and clearly a lot of students find it annoying to have universities assign them yet another e-mail account they need to check.
Given the budget crunch that many universities seem to be facing, why are they in the student e-mail business at all?