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The College of Arts and Sciences will be cutting down on costs, paper use and privacy risks with a new electronic messaging system.

The Hub — which was launched Jan. 18 — will serve as the College’s new electronic system of sending messages to students that contain official documents with information on grades, attendance and more.

The new website is the culmination of three years’ work, according to Niel McDowell, associate director of academic advising in the College and one of the Hub’s creators.

“We previously had an old, cumbersome electronic system that generated exclusively physical letters to print out and mail to students,” McDowell said. “We needed a new, up-to-date system and wanted to take advantage of the things you can do in a totally online environment.”

The Hub’s ultimate goal is to eliminate the use of letters and go “completely paperless,” according to McDowell.

The system is “not another email account,” added Ted Marvel, a senior programmer analyst in the College and Hub web designer. “It is a secure webpage accessed only by PennKey and password [holders] that students log onto. It’s one click, see the message and you’re done.”

Due to the content of the messages — which may include things like the status of a student’s academic standing, as well as information on transfer applications — the account will have “a very light volume,” Marvel predicted.

While McDowell added that no privacy-breaching incidents led to the system’s implementation, he hopes that it will serve as “another preventative measure” to ensure that these incidents do not occur.

College Dean Dennis DeTurck added that, while there is no feedback mechanism currently in place for users, the advising office will be reaching to students to gauge feedback about the system.

While DeTurck said “the time has come to have such a system in place,” some students are concerned that the Hub will become another burdensome email account.

“I think a more secure system is a good idea, but I think it’s impractical to think that students will actually check another account,” College freshman Ashleigh Seely said.

College sophomore Zach Burchill added that he had not even heard about the Hub.

Marvel acknowledged that the system has not sought much publicity, since “we didn’t want to promote it much,” he said. “We just wanted students to know it’s there.”

“It’s not terribly exciting for students,” he added. “It’s just a useful tool and a better way of doing what we already did.”

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