Alumnus laments losing e-mail after a year

When Brian Dixon, a Northeastern alumnus, tried to open his e-mail account through the myNEU portal a few days ago, he faced an unexpected surprise. A year had gone by since the day he finished his university requirements, therefore he lost five years worth of e-mails and all access to his account.

Even though Dixon walked in the graduation ceremony in May 2006, he had fulfilled his requirements the previous fall, which is when time started ticking for his access to disappear.

“Everybody knows you by your e-mail address,” Dixon said. “And once you lose it, you can’t get it back.”

From the moment students finish their university requirements and are no longer enrolled at the school, they have one year to make the transition to another e-mail account, said Bob Weir, vice president of information services.

Two weeks before the 12-month period comes to an end, students receive an e-mail informing them about the transition, as well as an announcement on the myNEU portal, Weir said.

“We know people see the warnings,” said Glenn Hill, director of information security and identity services, because the notice is displayed on the front page of myNEU and information services can track who views the page through logs.

Students have the option of creating an alumni e-mail account that would end in <a href="http://alumni.neu.edu“>alumni.neu.edu instead of the neu.edu ending current students have.

Dixon questions why students can not permanetly keep their e-mail accounts, or have them automatically roll over to an alumni account like Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Why can’t the e-mails in my inbox automatically be forwarded to an alumni account?” Dixon said.

Due to the size of Northeastern, it is necessary that e-mail addresses are recycled, Weir said.

“If we didn’t recycle [e-mail addresses] we would soon run out of them,” Weir said.

Weir said a name as common as John Smith would face many problems. The first student with that name would have smith.j as his e-mail address. The second would have smith.jo, the third smith.joh and the fourth smith.john.

“What happens ten years down the line?” Weir said. “We would have to distribute obscure IDs that students would just find unacceptable.”

If Dixon knew of the policy, he said he would have chosen to use another account while in school.

Even so, Weir encourages the use of the Northeastern e-mail address while enrolled.

“With the [Northeastern] e-mail, I can guarantee that the e-mail will be delivered, with other accounts, I can’t personally give that guarantee,” Weir said. “I do support using the forwarding system, but I do not encourage it.”

Hill said he will personally work to restore all Dixon’s e-mails and send those to him.

If cases like Dixon’s do arise, Hill said he will help people access their old e-mails. He said the purpose of the 12-month period, however, is for them to make that transition so problems will not come up.

“Students always talk about the NU shuffle and laugh about it. That’s a way we bond,” Dixon said. “With losing your e-mails, there is no NU bond there. It’s just plain frustrating.”

Weir realizes the situation can be difficult but insists the University is taking the appropriate measures to ensure a good transition.

“Once you leave Northeastern your relationship with the University doesn’t end,” Weir said. “It just changes.”

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