Google offers free e-mail for universities

Amy Eggert

Amy Eggert

In the fall of 2005, SDSU implemented a university-based e-mail system for students through MSN.

These accounts provided faculty a way to quickly and easily get in touch with students. They also gave students a way to register for Facebook, which at the time required proof of enrollment with an institution of higher education.

Recently, Google launched an education edition of its popular free web-based e-mail client and applications. Universities all over the world, including schools in Ireland, Sweden, Kenya, Rwanda, Egypt and even Arizona have switched to the Google Apps for Education, which includes tools that allow the user to collaborate on documents and spreadsheets, share calendars and communicate in real time with a built-in instant messenger client.

While Gmail may offer more features than Jacks accounts, it currently offers only 2.9 gigabytes of storage space. The current provider of Jacks e-mail accounts, Windows Live, provides five gigabytes, although Google continuously increases user storage space.

Another feature MSN’s Live mail provides that Gmail does not is the ability to receive text message alerts of new e-mail messages.

According to Vice President for Information Technology Michael Adelaine, SDSU is “not contractually obligated to Hotmail/Windows Live,” but will most likely continue to stay with the current system.

“Our last student IT survey of freshmen showed that over 80 percent use their university e-mail account,” Adelaine said, “and I would like to keep that trend going and not try to switch over to a new system and have to try to get the student population converted over.”

Most students arrive at SDSU with at least one personal e-mail account. Gmail allows free POP-in and POP-out capabilities, meaning that multiple e-mail accounts could be consolidated into one inbox, or that a Jacks account from a Gmail platform could be redirected to a student’s pre-existing account.

“I only check my Jacks account on a regular basis when I’m taking a class in which the professor communicates with the students via e-mail,” said Megann Davis, a junior German and advertising major.

No matter what e-mail client the university uses, having a central, standardized system has eased confusion and hassle.

“I love the idea of a unified e-mail system,” said Jason Owens, an assistant German professor. “In the past some students’ personal e-mail addresses were offensive, to the point that I refused to e-mail them. I really like that there’s a central system, that as long as I know the student’s last name, I can easily e-mail them.”