Volume 10, Issue 5
The GW Patriot
A journal of politics and culture
at the George Washington University
Within the span of a few hours last week, the University sentout four separate InfoMail emails on topics ranging from “Tipsfor Safe Use of Social Media” to a “Message From Provost Ler-man” regarding the next College of Professional Studies Dean.The emails might have seemed out of the ordinary, but the Uni- versity sent out four of them on Thursday as well.Ostensibly, the InfoMail system is de-signed to tell students when somethingimportant is happening on campus, suchas the September 10th attempted sexualassault near City Hall. But rather thaninform students about things they needto know, InfoMails are increasingly justspam for University divisions looking toget free advertising.
Indeed, the recent urry of eight [Info
-Mail] emails is cause for reconsideringcertain parts of the University’s massemail policy.Bombarding students with separate emailscauses them to tune out whatever messagethey contain. Suppose that after eight lessimportant emails over two days, there was a serious security threat on campus? Many students would simply not bother to
read it, or they’ve already put a lter on all [InfoMail]. It goes
without saying that it is cumbersome to constantly distinguishpotentially serious information from trivial technology updates
if we are receiving ve emails a day from the school.
Students often wonder: “Is InfoMail spam?” Yes, InfoMail is
spam. By the denition provided in the University’s own email
policy, “Spam is unsolicited bulk email.” Somewhat ironically,the policy goes on to state that “the GWMail system may not be used to send any unsolicited bulk e-mail messages, includ-ing commercial solicitation or any other form of spam.” As far
[GW InfoMail] Inbox Bombardment
as students are concerned, any type of spam is an annoy-ance, but it is especially irksome when it originates fromthe University – whose own email policy strictly prohibitsit.Furthermore, all mass emails require advance approval by a University Vice President or above. There are severaldifferent Vice Presidents – each with their own agenda – who tend to think that what their particular departmenthas to say is worthy of a mass email. Ev-idently, this causes a bit of a problem.It’s not that the emails are all worthless.
Not only would a lter on all email from
firstname.lastname@example.org cause you to missout on some hilarity (like the EmailGateincident) but you’d be uninformed inthe event that a serious crime occurred.It’s just getting to the point that if theUniversity were to send out an emailabout something that’s actually impor-tant, few students would bother to readit.So if the goal of the system is to informthe community about important events,then there’s a simple solution. An im-mediate email is warranted when sig-
nicant and timely information needs
to be disseminated: for example, a rape on campus or a
re in the Marvin Center. Less important information like
updates regarding National Cyber Security Awareness
Month are ne, but not a great reason to be emailing the
entire student body several times in one day. Combining what would otherwise be several separate emails about
trivial topics into one weekly digest would be an easy rststep toward making [InfoMail] more bearable.
The mass email policy is set for University review in July 2012, but for the sake of keeping our inboxes spam-free,let’s hope it’s reconsidered sooner.
By Will Frey, Editor in Chief & Erin Mew, Managing Editor