July 25, 2023
For years at Colgate University in New York, students getting an email address “for life” was a given. Then, in February, an email portent arrived—by email, of course: alumni learned that their lifetime email addresses might be phased out next year.
“Even with the lead time, people were caught off guard,” said Carl Klauss, the university’s vice president for advancement.
Student shock turned into outrage, sparking a petition to keep the lifetime email system.
“This was very surprising news, considering that in years prior Colgate students and graduates recall being told specifically that they would be able to keep their email addresses for life,” the petition said.
Many universities have offered an “email for life” option over the last decade, comforting students by providing a directory and archive of materials stored on their email over the years. But institutions are now grappling with how to keep that perk for students because of a Google change to its approach to digital storage.
Google began offering free storage to universities in the mid-2000s, through its G Suite for Education program. With that resource, institutions allowed students to keep their school email addresses postgraduation, along with storage through Google Drive.