Student email accounts to switch from Gmail to Office 365
The Office of Information Technology announced in a E-mail to the American university community that the student email system will move from Gmail to Microsoft Office 365 in August. The decision to switch comes after an error in the current system caused some students to lose emails.
In the April 12 email to students, the ILO advised students to activate their Office 365 email accounts now to receive emails that their Gmail accounts have bounced.
Students can activate their Office 365 email using this link.
The error in the system is the result of Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) registration, a protocol in place to prevent imposters and email impersonation. DMARC registration prevents email from being delivered from an organization rather than a specific provider.
Due to the way UA student emails are designed, this DMARC record prevents students from receiving emails sent to their @american.edu address. The emails still coming in are those addressed to @student.american.edu.
“The only other thing students can do is that, as you share your email account in an account profile or a job application – whenever you don’t initiate email contact – you should use @student.american.edu,” said Steve Munson, vice president and chief information officer.
Not all email providers have adopted the stricter standard causing these issues, so emails from these organizations are still reaching students.
Lost emails mostly come from larger email systems. There is no way for students to retrieve emails that may have been rejected by the Gmail system.
“An example is Zoom,” Munson said. “Yes [someone] sends an email as an invitation through Zoom, which would not be delivered because Zoom is a large global company, they have adopted this standard.
Faculty and staff already use Office 365 as their email provider, so the issue only affects some students. Munson said activating their Office 365 accounts is the best thing students can do to protect their email. This is an “interim solution” as AU is working on setting up the transfer to Office 365.
Once students activate their Office 365 accounts, they will not lose access to their Gmail accounts, but those accounts will stop receiving emails in August when the University officially transitions. Students will still be able to use their Google Drives.
In the fall, the ILO encouraged students to adopt two-factor verification for their Gmail accounts. The campaign had an adoption rate of over 90%, according to Munson. Office 365 will instead require students to create an account with Duo Security for their two-factor authentication.
“Activating your account is completely voluntary,” Munson said. “We encourage as many students to do this to make sure you don’t miss any emails.”
After the transfer, students will still be able to access their Gmail accounts, but they will no longer receive emails. Student email accounts will automatically migrate to Office 365 in August.