Vanderbilt’s technology servers cause email delays for students

Students report receiving emails hours after they are sent, causing stress among students and organization leaders during recruitment season.

Student+attending+a+Zoom+meeting

Mattigan Kelly

A student attends a Zoom class meeting on her laptop. (Hustler Multimedia/Mattigan Kelly)

Annabelle Abbott

From Sept. 7 through 11, students reported receiving emails hours after they were sent or, in some cases, not at all.  

Students said that this poses problems for them as they cannot stay up to date on important information, especially as student organizations are starting to seek new members. 

Alyssa O’Connell, Vice President of Vanderbilt Off Broadway (VOB), reported that after sending an email to the Off Broadway members at approximately 2 a.m. CDT, 14 hours later, the 200 members had yet to receive it. Later, she said that she found out that only a fraction of the org’s  members had received it, and they did not see it in their inboxes until hours and even days later.

O’Connell continued to send out emails to the 200 members of the org, and eventually, her Vanderbilt email got flagged as Spam. Because of this, she said that she cannot access her email account and all things associated with it, including Brightspace. 

“Vanderbilt’s email servers are not reliable,” O’Connell said. “In the past, we’ve had a lot of issues sending emails to such a large group of people.”

Doug Finnegan, Vice President of Delta Sigma Pi (DSP), Vanderbilt’s business fraternity, noticed that when sending out recruitment information, emails did not send or took a long time to send and be received.

“The servers have been actively flagging emails as spam when they were not sent from a Vanderbilt account, which has become an issue for DSP, since we use a standard Gmail account,” said Finnegan. 

The slow email servers have not only had a stressful impact on the senders, but also on the receivers, according to first-year Amanda Walker. Walker noticed that she received an email from Vanderbilt three hours later than a fellow student. This email was in regards to the tragic passing of Professor Vaughan Jones. While she was not directly affected by Vaughan’s passing, Walker stated that she believes this could have impacted other students who knew him.

“For some students, that’s very personal and would actually affect them,” said Walker. 

When Walker reached out to Vanderbilt’s IT services (VUIT), they told her that they were unsure if it was a server issue or if emails were just sent out in clusters. 

“They didn’t seem to have a concrete answer, so I think it’s still an issue that they are trying to scope out,” Walker said.

VUIT has yet to comment on the email glitches and a communications representative said in an email to the Hustler that they haven’t received any complaints of that nature. 

Similar to her prior experiences, Walker recalled when the student housing portal crashed over the summer as all of the first-years tried to sign up for move-in time slots. Walker, O’Connell and Finnegan all commonly cite course registration as an issue as well. 

“There hasn’t been a year where on the first click my classes have gone through,” said O’Connell. 

Vanderbilt’s servers have historically been unreliable according to students, and Walker questions how well they can handle the large capacity of students, professors and administrators. 

“This is something they should be able to see coming ahead of time,” said Walker in regards to the server crashes.