Mass frustration

Sean L. Wright

Three mass e-mails sent out by University graduate students last week sparked a campus-wide debate over the University’s e-mail policy.

Graduate student Tuan-Linh Nguyen found he had the power to e-mail the student body on Sept. 26 when he sent an e-mail complaining about a flurry of mass e-mails. Graduate student Jason Zola’s two replies also went to all students.

According to University Chief Information Officer Steve Fugale, Zola and Nguyen were permitted to send the e-mails because of their graduate assistant status. Many University employees, including graduate assistants, have access to e-mail lists including [email protected]. According to policy, mass mailings should be approved by Residence Life, a vice president or the president.

The mass e-mails of Zola and Nguyen centered on the numerous mass e-mails sent out daily by departments and organizations.

“While there are some important notices that go out campus-wide, I do not believe it is necessary to hear about every special class being offered or every speaker that happens to be showing up on a particular day,” Zola said. He said only important announcements, such as school closings, should be sent to all students.

Nguyen objected to the mass mailings more strongly. “Just because [e-mail] has the approval of the president or any other administrator doesn’t remove its spam designation,” he said.

Nguyen continued, “I have Villanova mass e-mail automatically sent to my [trash] folder.”

Defending e-mails sent to the entire community, Fugale said, “We are constantly looking at the most effective ways to communicate and right now the most utilized is e-mails.”

Electronic mail is a tool to complement traditional methods of communication and to improve education and administrative efficiency.”

While some students find the e-mails to be a nuisance, others find them beneficial. “I enjoy getting the e-mails because it keeps me informed about the activities on campus,” freshman Danielle Hanson said.

Freshman Evan Chiverton agreed, “The e-mails keep me up to date.”

Zola acknowledged the benefits of having mass distribution lists but suggested improvements to the system. “Students should be able to sign up for an interest list at the beginning of the year,” he said.

“By checking certain boxes they will be able to receive e-mails from that particular list. The suggested distribution topics included public speakers, sports and special classes offered.”