Some students struggle to adjust to BYU email change

A BYU student checks his Y-Message account. BYU students are now required to use their Y-Message and Microsoft Outlook accounts for all campus and educational communication. (Alice Gubler)

Since the university shifted away from using personal email accounts earlier this year, some students say they are struggling with the adjustment.

As of May 10, students are no longer receiving emails from professors or the university to their personal emails. The change was implemented during the spring term, leaving the thousands of returning and new students this semester with a steep learning curve.

The change to exclusively using BYU emails especially affects continuing students who did not start their BYU experience with a familiarity with Microsoft Outlook.

The Daily Universe gathered the perspectives of 28 students regarding the email change. The results were gathered via a QR code posted in various popular spots around campus, which directed students to a survey.

Although 42% of survey participants believed they were given proper notification about the email change, the majority of students believed they did not receive proper notification about the email shift.

Although students were notified of the change during the spring and summer terms, some students missed the memo. BYU student Alice Anderson said she missed a couple of assignments at the beginning of this semester because she was unaware of how to set up notifications for her BYU email.

“I didn’t even know how to use my BYU email,” Anderson said.

BYU club leaders such as Eldon Perkins, a mechanical engineering student and leader of the a capella group Fermata Thin Air, said their clubs are also experiencing some obstacles with the email change.

Perkins said his club has experienced difficulties finding enough storage from the BYU Microsoft Outlook email, and they are currently using a group chat through another technology source that can better support their needs. 

The email change heavily impacts student/teacher communication and is expected to be used for all campus communications. This includes logging in to certain class Zoom meetings and communicating with teaching assistants.

Perkins wished there had been more of an effort to communicate this change to students before the beginning of the fall semester and is still wary of the change’s efficacy.

“Why are we asked to do this when it doesn’t seem to be making life much easier for us,” Perkins said.

Kendall Flake, a BYU philosophy major and a religion teaching assistant for 160 students, said he and his students are also experiencing some difficulty with the shift to their BYU email this fall.

“It’s not a huge deal, but the biggest thing is I just really don’t like using Outlook compared to Gmail, it seems less intuitive,” Flake said.

Flake explained his students are resisting the change or do not know how to use their BYU Outlook email, so he is getting emails through both his personal and Outlook accounts.

Forms response chart. Question title: Do you feel you were given proper notification and instruction about this change?. Number of responses: 28 responses.
Graph displaying student answers to a survey question about the BYU email change. 46.4% of surveyed students said they were given proper notification about the BYU email change. (Alice Gubler)

When asked which email they used before, 75% of surveyed students responded they only used their personal email when communicating with the university prior to the change. No one recorded they had solely used their BYU email.

Forms response chart. Question title: Did you use your BYU email regularly before it became a requirement?. Number of responses: 28 responses.
A graph depicting student responses to the email. 75% of 28 surveyed students across the BYU campus said they exclusively used their personal email prior to their BYU Outlook and Y-message accounts becoming a requirement. (Alice Gubler)

The BYU communication change was made to be “in accordance with security best practices and FERPA laws,” according to the BYU Email website. FERPA laws are in place to protect students’ private information and confidentiality between university communications.

Forms response chart. Question title: Do you worry about your ability to stay updated with teacher/student/university communications after this change?. Number of responses: 28 responses.
Pie chart recording students’ responses to questions about their ability to stay updated with University Communications. 50% of students surveyed said they worried about being able to stay updated with University Communications. (Alice Gubler)

While the email change may be difficult for some BYU students to navigate, the majority of students report being familiar with how to use their BYU email account.

Forms response chart. Question title: Are you familiar with how to use your BYU email?. Number of responses: 28 responses.
Pie chart recording answers to BYU students’ familiarity with their Outlook email. 67.9% of students said they were familiar with their BYU email, while the rest wanted either more instruction or were not familiar with their BYU email. (Alice Gubler)

Students who need instruction regarding their BYU email are encouraged to visit the BYU email login, where they can be walked through the email setup. At the bottom of the BYU email website, students are instructed on how to download Outlook and provided with links to various setups for different devices and personal accessibility options.

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