The Maroon

Editorial: You’ve got spam!

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Gage Counts, [email protected]

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Every university faces the dilemma of rapidly changing technology. With the evolution of computers, operating systems, Wi-Fi and other tech, it’s understandable when Loyola can’t keep up. What Loyola should prioritize is ensuring that its technology is safe and seamless for students to use, and that priority isn’t being met with our email system.

Over the break, students were hit with a rash of emails from a website called HonorSociety.org, which claimed to be inviting students to join Loyola’s Honor Society. Some were able to read the emails, determine that they were spam, and properly delete them. Others read the emails and weren’t so certain they were fraudulent. Students were receiving the emails for weeks before the university spoke up and made it clear they were spam.

If there is a spam filter in Wolfmail, a lot of junk mail gets through it. The only way to decide if an email is spam is to wade through the scores of daily emails individually. Once decided that an email is spam, the only option is to delete it, not mark it as spam or let Wolfmail know it’s fraudulent.

Weeks will go by before students are told that a website that managed to learn the email addresses of thousands of students sent them fraudulent emails in an attempt to take their information. Don’t worry, though; every image file from all emails is blocked, even from addresses ending with loyno.edu. The Loyola community needs to be protected from the dreaded department logos and virus-infested guest speaker portraits.

Also worth mentioning is the terrible user interface of Wolfmail. Upon logging in, users are greeted with an email that looks as though it was plucked from the mid-2000s and given Loyola school colors. Using Wolfmail can be a clumsy experience, and sometimes emails go missing in transit, never to be received by a professor or student. Some of this is undoubtedly due to user error, but the awkwardness of Wolfmail only compounds that error.

Aside from issues of junk mail, security, and ease-of-use, it also raises the question of how websites, businesses or other organizations get access to Loyola email addresses, and how thoroughly they vet the organizations they share information with. With the widespread sharing of mailing lists, Loyola can’t be blamed for every spam email that enters a Wolfmail inbox. Still, it’s not difficult to determine that our emails are being shared, and it isn’t always students doing the sharing.

A patchwork solution is to forward your university email to your private email. This does allow your personal email to use its own existing spam filter, and it does fix some issues with the terrible user interface of Wolfmail. Still, it doesn’t resolve security issues, and it defeats the purpose of providing a university email to students. It also violates the Student Code of Conduct, which states, “All students are assigned a Loyola University e-mail address. This is the only address that will be recognized and used by Loyola University.”

If Loyola only recognizes Wolfmail, why does it encourage students to get all their messages forwarded to their personal email by doing the email forwarding on its website, making Wolfmail functionally useless? Whether the answer is cost or bureaucracy, it’s time to upgrade to a new email service, or at least update Wolfmail to solve these problems.

Students have long complained about Wolfmail, but with the specific embarassment of                                                                                             HonorSociety.org and the availablility of emails alternatives such as Google Apps for Education, they have the opportunity to make a concrete case for a change. The Student Government Association has every prerogative to usher in this kind of change, and it’s something that all students and faculty should support them on.

The editorial represents the majority opinions of The Maroon’s editorial board and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Loyola University. 

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About the Writer
Gage Counts, Managing Editor for Electronic Properties

R. Gage is an economics junior and the Managing Editor for Electronic Properties. He was previously a guest columnist and the Opinion and Editorial Editor....

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Editorial: You’ve got spam!