As you probably know, Google will soon become Wesleyan’s webmail provider (the switch is happening January 19th). Since I’ve heard a fair number of questions floated whenever it comes up in discussion and had a few questions about the switch myself, I asked some questions and got answers from Karen Warren, one the ITS employees in charge of the switch. I’m going to summarize those answers here and try to offer some additional general explanation in a question and answer format.
What’s going to change?
If you route your Wesleyan e-mail through Gmail already very little will change for you, except that Gmail access will be more seamless than before since you’ll no longer have to have your e-mail automatically forwarded or fetched with POP3. If you don’t use Gmail already the main difference for you will be that you’ll be using Gmail as a webmail interface rather than the current SquirrelMail.
Another major change is that e-mail will be hosted externally from Wesleyan rather than locally on servers owned and maintained by ITS. An advantage of this is the greatly increased storage space: each student will get the same amount of storage as a standard free Gmail account, which at the moment is more than 7GB, as opposed to the 100MB we’ve had up until now. One additional consequence of this is that any downtime will probably be Google’s fault rather than ITS’s. Unless Gmail starts going down a whole lot more often than it does now this will probably be a change for the better.
[edit by Sam]: E-mail addresses will remain the same.
Can I opt out of the switch?
Yes. If you for some reason want to opt out of the switchover, you must do so by 5pm, January 14th. There’s a link—’Gmail Opt Out’—to do so in your portfolio. If you choose to opt out, you may opt back in at any time. However, you may not go back to using Wesleyan-hosted e-mail once the switch has been made.
Google’s general education contract is here. However, Wesleyan has been negotiating with Google to make some changes to the agreement, and those are not yet finalized, and so are not available online. I have been told that they will be made available when possible.
You will not have to accept any additional EULA when you first sign in to your Google Apps webmail. Additionally, all of Wesleyan’s policies will continue to apply.
Will there be ads?
For current students, no. For alumni, read on…
Will there be any change in account functionality post-graduation?
Service will remain essentially the same. Google reserves the right to add advertising to alumni accounts, but does not currently do so.
Please feel free to leave any questions you have in the comments. I’ll answer them myself if I can or get them answered if I can’t.
[EDIT] ITS has a blog with details about the switch to Google Apps, including instructions on opting out and instructional videos for moving your contacts, keeping the mail currently in your account, transferring any folders you’ve set up in webmail, and setting up mail clients.
[/EDIT by Justin, 2009-01-11 2:35 PM]