Email Controversy: What To Take Away
Issue   |   Wed, 03/07/2012 - 21:45

This week saw a lot of tension on campus on the subject of mass emails, sparked by a student voicing a grievance that many shared on campus: that the annoying nature of mass mailings requires students to avoid the temptation to an end to the unofficial use of the campus email addresses. Students responded in various ways to this complaint — some of them reactionary and unpleasant in nature. We would like to explain why we see the event as a clash of student interests, while offering visions for the future of peer outreach at the College.

First, the immature activities of parties involved disappointed the Editorial Board. Student groups and individual students seeking to sell furniture or recover lost items should not have abused the accidentally-leaked list of addresses for their own personal purposes. This brings us to our second point: all use is abuse in the mailing regime's current state.

We feel this way not so much because of the annoyance and inconvenience this causes, particularly for smartphone users and those genuinely not interested in parties, sports or chatter between friends. We feel strongly about the principle of fair use of such campus resources. If all students and groups resorted to the list as a means of publicity, our inboxes would overflow with CPU-consumping spam every day. This appears to us as the likely outcome, since there’s no reason why students wouldn’t leap at a cheap and lazy alternative to posters, table tents, tabling, etc. The groups who refuse to contribute to this problem and refrain from using the list put themselves at an unfair disadvantage — after all, we’d all like people to attend the events into which we invest so much hard work.

In this light, the original complaint is highly understandable, if unfortunately sarcastic and public. Some of the responses, however, were completely uncalled for. Sending a picture of anyone to the student body at large, especially for the purposes of humiliation, constitutes cyberbullying. Hitting “reply all” and furthering the conversation in public is equally inappropriate. As responsible adults living in a community together, we must be more mature and level-headed in our interactions with each other.

That said, this series of events sparked interest in the scheme of mailings — our third point of interest. Many students expressed that they liked the substantive use of all-campus mailings, particularly those pertaining to sports events and parties. These open invitations could bridge the divides in a fractured student body by bringing together people of all groups to common events and games. The Senate, during Monday’s meeting, brought up the possibility of having an official all-college list that could have moderated access and an opt-out process for anyone annoyed at what they considered spam. Other suggestions include a campus-wide Facebook page or student life Twitter account that re-tweets student bulletins about campus events and games. These options not only attract the masses to school-wide events, but also keep individuals updated about events they would otherwise be unaware of.

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