Alumni Petition Against Termination of Colgate Email Accounts

Ryan Dugdale, Assistant News Editor

Alumni are circulating a petition to send to university administrators calling for a reverse of their recent announcement to alumni that their email addresses and Google accounts would be terminated at the end of March, going back on a previous policy that gave alumni their Colgate emails for life. While alumni can request to keep their Gmail access, doing so would still switch the domain from to The rest of their Google accounts, including Google Drive, will be deleted for all users, as the email notifying alumni of the change on Feb. 15 said, advising them to begin transferring their personal data.
Karl Clauss, Colgate’s vice president of advancement, noted that some of the reasons for closing accounts are practical and beyond Colgate’s control.
“Google’s decision to end unlimited free storage for all universities has had a profound impact on the ability to offer Google Drive with an email for life account,” Clauss said. “Ongoing — and annually increasing — alumni participation in our data usage would impact Colgate’s capacity to provide adequate space for current students and faculty.”
According to Clauss, the majority of alumni accounts are dormant, meaning the valuable storage space left after Google’s change in policy is unused. There are also security risks associated with dormant accounts that the university wants to mitigate, he said.
“If an inactive account’s credentials are stolen, then that account could be used to send spam or phishing messages, to access Colgate resources, upload large amounts of data with the intention of illegally sharing copyrighted materials and to spread malware without easily being detected,” Clauss said.
Feeling frustrated by the change, alumnus On Tim Tang ‘17, former senior class president, started the petition via Google forms addressed to the alumni office circulating among alumni on social media. Tang said her Colgate email address and Google account have remained important in her life, even years after graduating, and aimed to create a forum for alumni to share their concerns as a collective.
“My Colgate email is important to me because it is the email address I’ve used for the last nine years, under the impression that it would be mine and unchanged for the rest of my life,” Tang said. “My goals in starting the petition were to get a sense of how many people are upset by this decision, to create a space for different people to share why their Colgate email accounts were important to them, and to push for greater transparency from Colgate on their decision, a dialogue, and hopefully (with alumni input) a reconsideration of other possible options.”
The petition quickly began to circulate around social media and garnered over 730 signatures as of Feb. 18, according to Tang. The petition, which notes that it was created using Tang’s Colgate Gmail account, also caught the attention of Colgate students who haven’t yet graduated, such as senior Olivia Geppel, who are also concerned about what the change will mean for them post-graduation.
“Personally, I know a lot of my accounts on different websites are linked to my current Colgate email,” Geppel said. “Also, having the same email to connect with Colgate alumni for networking purposes is important to me.”
Clauss echoed that alumni who want to keep their email can follow the link in the email sent on Feb. 15. Colgate ITS is also providing alumni with resources on how they can transfer the information from their Google Drive.