EDITORIAL: Mass e-mail, mass mania

Editorial Board

At 8:23 p.m. Tuesday night, one student took action against something she felt was an injustice. This action came in the form of a petition request that was e-mailed to any student enrolled in any Core Humanities Seminar in the fall of 2003, 2004 or 2005. The plea found its way to a majority of the student body and set off a firestorm of e-mails, invoking nearly 200 school-wide responses by yesterday morning, with even more coming throughout the day.

It soon became glaringly obvious that the e-mail inboxes of approximately three quarters of the student body and many professors were not the proper forums for a discussion of this magnitude. Unfortunately, this incident serves as a reminder of why students are barred from utilizing e-mail distributions lists that include the entire student body.

The problem is not that students are voicing their concerns, but the manner in which they are doing so. Students are entitled to opinions and the right to express them, but activism must be flushed through the proper channels. In this instance, the expression of opinion led to what can be deemed an Internet riot. What started as a call to action and reform led to cyber mayhem and a gross inconvenience to thousands of disinterested bystanders. While the initial message was questionably justifiable, the responses – whether relevant or inane – certainly were not. The initial e-mail challenged students to rise to action for a cause that, according to many of the responses, numerous students care about. What happened instead was a flood of unintelligent, incoherent, offensive and immature responses. Many students replied by complaining about being sent so many e-mails through an additional e-mail that, ironically, perpetuated the problem. Other students took the situation as an opportunity for self-promotion, slanderous remarks or the circulation of vulgarity.

It is disheartening when an opportunity for the student body to rally behind a cause is squandered in lieu of debauchery, irreverence and stupidity. At a university that has often been accused of apathy, students had a chance to shed that image and fight for something as a whole. Instead, the student body fell flat on its collective face and achieved nothing more than the impression of an immature group of college kids. If students want for their voices to be heard, they must voice them responsibly.