Editorial: E-mails cry wolf from inboxes

E-mail is out of control.

The University’s e-mail accounts have long been praised by students as a way to communicate with friends after graduation, stay in touch with family without running up phone bills and get last-second help from a professor on that big paper. But the number of mass mailings sent to students each day is overwhelming.

The purpose of the “[email protected]” account should be to communicate dire, pressing information to all students in a convenient way. Events such as snow closings or harmful viruses attacking the network are good examples of the mass e-mail. But while announcements about such events are broadcasted across the system, a lot of unnecessary information makes it into each mailbox as well.

SGA resolved several years ago to help create an e-mail filter that would allow students to customize which e-mails they receive. For instance, a student interested in photography would receive messages announcing meetings of the photography club but not information on joining Special Olympics. Why this plan was never seen through is lost on us, but it would at least be a step in the right direction.

Another key move would be to stop sending mass messages about all group meetings. The Activities Newsflash was created to announce which clubs are meeting every week, with brief blurbs about five or six groups mentioned in each mailing. This is highly preferable to receiving five or six individual e-mails about groups the majority of students don’t care about. Forcing groups to use this means of self-promotion would be much friendlier to users.

Some mass e-mails are not only useless to the people whose boxes they end up in, they are messages containing huge graphic files that contribute to overfilling mailboxes. Some of the worst offenders are Career Services and CAT, which typically send out enormous files that many students simply delete immediately anyway.

University administrators can continue to send out this garbage e-mail, but the end result is potentially disastrous. As classes begin to lean heavier on e-mail communication, many students will stop checking their mailboxes because there is nothing of interest to the reader there. Important messages about classes or other major events being cancelled will be harder to get across for the same reason.

Many students have already abandoned voicemail for their cell phones, making it that much more difficult for crucial information to get to students. If the policy on mass e-mail is not adjusted, the last reliable form of communication between students and administrators will be lost.