CUP OF JOE: Switching to Microsoft Outlook is Unnecessary

Joe Adams, Opinion Columnist

As the fall semester comes to a close, there is a lot to think about. Finals are stressful, the holiday season is here and the women’s basketball team is killing it this season. However, one big change is in store for next semester, and a quiet one at that: Villanova is officially changing from Google Suite to Microsoft Outlook, effective next semester.

In an exclusive email that I obtained from an Outlook “tester,” the school sent this to a limited number of students:

“UNIT is preparing to migrate students from Gmail to Microsoft’s Exchange…I was hoping that you would be willing to participate in our pilot migration from Gmail to Exchange on 12/21. We are asking that you look at documentation and help us to ensure that the migration will run smoothly for everyone.”

The details are not entirely clear, but it seems that starting in the spring 2023 semester, students will no longer be able to send or receive emails in Gmail. Instead, they must use Microsoft Outlook. It is unclear at this time if Google Drive use will be impacted, but the speculation is that we will not be able to edit any of our previous documents with our Villanova email accounts.

I decided to break the news publicly to my Instagram followers, to see what Villanova students had to say about the abrupt change. The results were clear: this is a terrible idea.

The responses ranged from “Gross,” to “It sucks,” “NOOOO,” “Ew,” “Hate it,” “Not good,” and even “I hate this!! Gmail supremacy.”

Other students explained their discontent in more detail.


“Seems like it will be another thing on my plate to worry about,” another said.

That is the question I was trying to answer. How did we come to this, and with no warning from administration?

I reached out to Jonathan B. Hardy, the Deputy Chief Information Officer at Villanova University.

“The decision to switch from Google Workspace to Microsoft Office 365 was centered on increasing collaboration, enhancing cybersecurity, and preparing our students for a modern workforce,” Hardy said. “Students have been using a different email, calendar and document platform than the faculty and graduate students with whom they regularly interact. Bringing students, faculty and staff together in the Microsoft environment will improve students’ ability to work and communicate with faculty and TAs at Villanova, increase functionality with other Microsoft Office 365 tools (like OneDrive and unified calendaring) and provide a smoother end-to-end user experience.

“In terms of enhancing security, the Office 365 environment has more robust tools designed to detect and protect against this type of threat and will offer better protection for our students in the future. In recent years, higher education has become a consistent target for increasingly sophisticated phishing campaigns. With regard to preparing our students for a modern workforce, nearly 95% of Fortune 500 companies use Microsoft Office 365 as their primary platform for email and collaboration. By introducing our students to the Microsoft environment now as part of their higher education experience, it is our hope they will be better equipped to embark on their professional careers after graduation.”

Even given this information, there were still a lot of great points brought up by my Instagram followers, who are all fellow Villanova students.

“Gmail is very practical with all the programs it is attached to, so this seems like a downgrade.”

Some students were worried about the transition, since Google is all they’ve known.

“I’m incredibly frustrated. I’ve used the G-Suite for my whole academic life and it’s the best.”

“Not great, I love Gmail,” one junior told me. “It is going to make things difficult given that we’re all so used to Gmail.”

This change is clearly unwelcome by the Villanova student body. Why would we switch from a perfectly fine and beloved service to something different? What was the reason behind this change? We may never know.

With many things at Villanova, we must again get used to an unwelcome change. Best of luck with the new adjustment, Villanova students.