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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Student email accounts to move from Gmail to Office 365

Shift comes in response to an error found in the Gmail system

The Office of Information Technology announced in an email to the American University community that the student email system will switch from Gmail to Microsoft Office 365 in August. The decision to switch comes after an error in the current system resulted in some students losing emails. 

In the email to students on April 12, the OIT advised students to activate their Office 365 email accounts now to receive emails their Gmail accounts have been rejecting.

Students can activate their Office 365 emails using this link.

The error in the system is the result of the Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance, or DMARC record, a protocol in place to prevent imposters and impersonation through email. The DMARC record prevents emails that come from an organization rather than a specific provider from being delivered. 

Because of the way AU’s student emails are designed, this DMARC record is preventing students from receiving any emails sent to their @american.edu address. The emails that are still arriving are those addressed to @student.american.edu.

“The only other thing that students can do is, as you’re sharing your email account in an account profile or a job application — anytime you’re not initiating contact through an email — then 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 those organizations are still coming through to students.

The emails lost are mostly coming from bigger mail systems. There is no way for students to recover emails that may have been rejected by the Gmail system.

“One example is Zoom,” Munson said. “If [someone] sends an email as an invite through Zoom, that wouldn’t get delivered because Zoom is a big global company, they’ve adopted that standard.”

Faculty and staff already use Office 365 as their email provider, so the issue is only affecting some students. Munson said activating their Office 365 accounts is the best thing students can do to protect their emails. This is an “interim solution” as AU works to set up the transfer to Office 365. 

Once students activate their Office 365 accounts they will not lose access to their Gmail accounts, but these 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, OIT encouraged students to adopt two-factor verification for their Gmail accounts. The campaign had an adoption rate of over 90 percent, 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 would encourage as many students to do it for the purposes of making sure that you’re not missing any email.”

After the transfer, students will still be able to access their Gmail accounts, but they will stop receiving emails. Students’ email accounts will automatically be transferred to Office 365 in August. 

apritchard@theeagleonline.com


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