Last week, a Canadian labour arbitrator ruled that Lakehead University had the right to convert its campus email to Google’s Gmail. In 2006, Lakehead had signed a free three-year deal to outsource its "@lakeheadu.ca" address to Google’s Gmail servers. Upset, the Lakehead University Faculty Association challenged the switch, claiming that it violated privacy rights. Some students and faculty members feared that because Google is an American company, US government agencies would have access university emails under post 9/11 laws such as the Patriot Act. The arbitrator dismissed the challenge, concluding that the privacy of email communication was not protected under the University’s collective agreement.
Debates about privacy aside: just how cheap is Lakehead? Every other university in the country provides its students with on-campus email, so why can’t Lakehead? For a university that already has a questionable reputation, this doesn't exactly scream: "quality education." Things could be worse though: Lakehead could have signed a deal with Yahoo or Microsoft.
Photo by Patrick Chondon.
Monday, June 15, 2009
By Stephen M.