Staff Editorial: Campus e-mail: Unreliable, yet undeniable

Ever been typing that oh-so-carefully-worded proposition to your teacher explaining your senior thesis topic and, after three drafts of grammatical scrutiny, clicked send… and up popped that friendly little box telling you that you were logged off automatically 15 minutes ago and the e-mail you sent has been lost? Several editorial board members have had an experience similar to this one, all as a result of the campus e-mail system through webmail.

Webmail is another option, comparable to Outlook Express, through which you can access your campus e-mail from your room computer.

But to the surprise of many students using webmail for the first time this year, the system automatically logs you off after only 15 minutes of use.

As nice an idea as it would be that we would never spend more than 15 minutes on e-mail, it’s just not true…or possible, for that matter.

Communication via e-mail seems to be a widely employed and necessary means for interconnectedness between students, teachers, and departments here at Lawrence. Lawrence strongly encourages e-mail and relies on it for most communication outside of class hours. Yet the Lawrence system logs us off after only 15 minutes of use.

To add to the inconvenience, computer services has never made the effort to notify students of this time limit. That failure has resulted in the loss of some very important and carefully planned documents, as well as students’ precious time spent re-typing the e-mails.

We all struggled with the effects of campus e-mail’s failure to continue forwarding over the summer. Schedules, important information about returning to school, and contact with teachers were all kept from us, causing many issues upon returning to school.

Any attempt to be conscientious during the first few weeks of school was completely compromised. Meetings went unattended due to lack of knowledge, schedules went unknown, and teachers trying to contact students over the summer went ignored. Students are the ones who have to make up for these mistakes, while at the same time we are trying to get back into the swing of things.

Maybe there is something to say about the good old pen and paper method. Yet, at a school that so strongly advocates the use of e-mail not only for social purposes, but for academic purposes as well, one would expect computer services to make every effort to make e-mail usage simple, reliable, and consistent.

At this point, the postal service is looking more and more reliable.