Email Address Aliases Deprecated for New Account Holders

November 8, 2021 12:30 PM

Center for Information Technology

CIT is amending the ObieID Account Administration policy that governs the creation of digital identities (ObieIDs) at Oberlin.

Below is a summary of the changes to current policy: 

  • firstname.lastname@oberlin.edu email address aliases will no longer be issued to new account holders beginning Spring 2022. 
  • ObieID usernames and associated email addresses will be extended from 8 characters to 30 characters. Numerals will still be appended to ObieIDs in the case of an exact match with an existing ObieID. As has been the case for several years, ObieIDs will never be reused.

Neither of these changes will affect existing firstname.lastname@oberlin.edu email aliases. Those account holders who have been issued an alias will be able to keep it. 

Firstname.lastname@oberlin.edu email addresses present a number of challenges for both users and CIT as we continue our efforts to incorporate services into our single sign-on environment and automate and standardize business processes.  

Having two email addresses causes significant confusion for new faculty, staff, and students. It is often unclear which address can be used to log in to systems and users must also take additional steps when to configure their Gmail account send messages from their firstname.lastname address. Having two addresses for each person also makes it difficult to search for correspondence from colleagues and friends; it’s impossible to know for sure from which account a message was sent. 

In addition, ObieIDs and their associated firstname.lastname aliases have been created by hand for many years. CIT will be launching a new system for creating ObieIDs automatically as new faculty, staff, and students arrive and is delivering credentials to new Obies via email rather than on paper. Despite this improvement, CIT cannot yet realize time savings as a result. The need to generate a second, firstname.lastname email address for each person adds considerable complexity to the automated process and increases the likelihood that errors may occur, so portions of that process have remained manual. Firstname.lastname aliases that must be changed in the event of a person changing their name also must be updated manually. 

In addition, most computer systems require a single identifier for a person. Those systems that must ingest an email request from a person (e.g., CIT’s ticketing system, Facilities Operations’ TOPdesk, and others) often cannot perform the association between an email sent from a person’s firstname.lastname email address with their ObieID account in the system. This results in a lot of manual effort on the part of staff members trying to triage these requests. 

Firstname.lastname email addresses originated as a courtesy to faculty, staff, and students, particularly when issued alongside very short usernames that may not have accommodated an individual’s entire last name. CIT recognizes the necessity of a convenient, human-readable form of a person’s email address and intends to extend each ObieID to a maximum length of 30 characters. This will allow us to both standardize on a single identifier for an individual but also accommodate the complete length of most surnames, making it easier to associate an ObieID with a person. 

We believe that these changes will better support new, modern computer systems and allow staff across the institution to realize significant time savings currently spent on manual processes reconciling two email addresses while still retaining the convenient usernames we’ve grown to enjoy. If you have any questions or feedback about this change, please open a ticket using the CIT Tech Support Portal.