Re: University email
I feel your pain. It has always struck me as incredibly ironic (to say nothing of hypocritical) that an institution of higher learning displays the highest level of hidebound backwardness and inflexibility when it comes to either freedom of access or choice of methodology. I suppose an argument could be made that POP is too insecure in a place brimming with youthfully exuberant mischief-makers, but IMAP should at least be available. And lest someone jumps down my throat, I am aware of the problems with phishers co-opting campus accounts to send spam or worse. But there are other ways to deal with these problems that don't require violating the spirit of openness and exploration that a University, of all places, is supposed to foster.
If experience is any guide, the actually knowledgeable tech gurus in the IT department are probably all Linux fanatics, so you may not be greeted with the drone-like response that you fear. Nonetheless, they probably won't be able to open the desired functions to you due to prohibitions from the powers-that-be.
If your institution in fact allows you to access with a client, you may wish to consider Evolution instead of T-bird. I've just posted on another thread where I say that I don't like Evolution because it is too much like Outlook, but it may be the simplest solution for you because it has Exchange functionality built in. Quirky and hard to set up, but once done, I didn't have too many problems connecting to Exchange.
Newb: How far must I jump to clear the ledge halfway down?
Guru: It's bad to jump off cliffs. Let's look at better options.
Newb: Stop harping about "best practices" and just let me jump.