Delving Deeper into the Email Issue

Matt DiGiovanni

In last week’s issue (February 8), I commented on the emails that have been showing up in my student account recently, and how seeing nearly identical email for days in a row can be irritating/frustrating, and doesn’t necessarily result in a greater response. After conversing with a few folks about this topic, I decided I should delve a little deeper into the issue and clarify a little bit by coming at the issue from both the sending and receiving sides.

Anyone sending out emails is obviously trying to reach an audience to evoke a response of some form, whether that be a reply email, filling out a survey, attending something, or purchasing something. Last semester, a big change was enacted to vastly reduce the number of emails that were being sent every day to student accounts. This came after years of complaints every day when the blast of 20 plus emails went out every morning and then continued though out the day.

From that point forward, student clubs and organizations were not allowed to send emails to the entire student body, only to the club/organization mailing list. In lieu of this, the ChargerConnection system was created, allowing every club and organization to have both their own page, and to create and post event posters on a virtual bulletin board. While there are a lot of active users and almost the entire undergraduate population has signed into ChargerConnection, it has yet to be used to it’s full potential.

With the student clubs and organizations out of the equation, that leaves all the academic departments, other non-academic departments and the offices on campus, and some odds and ends here and there that don’t fit into these categories. For many of these groups, the use of emails to reach out to students can simply be the most viable option, and in some cases, comes out of necessity. Understandably so, if a group needs something, such as a survey filled out, repeated emails may be needed just to get enough of a response. This is where the issue gets tricky – the group sending emails doesn’t necessarily want to send out numerous emails for the same thing, but to succeed, potentially has to, while those receiving the emails may get frustrated with the duplicates. It’s a difficult catch-22, and at the moment, there’s not really a good solution outside of practicing moderation with repeated emails.

The final piece of the puzzle is why there is not currently a viable alternative to email for communicating with students. Everyone remember that insideUNH portal that was launched? Well as far as I’m concerned right now, it’s completely useless. I use it for two things: logging in as The Charger Bulletin to ChargerConnection, and using the EMS system to book rooms. Why is this you ask? I see it as disorganized and not entirely functional. In theory, students should almost live on the portal, using it to access their email, Blackboard, Matrix, Degree Audit, etc. Instead, students login to insideUNH just to find out that when they click on the Blackboard icon, they need to login, with the same login credentials, again. If it’s easier to get to Blackboard with the quick links menu on the main UNH site, that’s how I’m going to get there. The launch of insideUNH was not very publicized, I can’t imagine that many students are using it, and frankly, I doubt I would even look at it if it weren’t for the USGA integration with the portal. If and when the portal is working to it’s full potential, it can become another valuable avenue of reaching students, and additionally, faculty and staff; however, until than, I don’t foresee it doing very much.

I think that this editorial covers the issue a little more completely and shows more of my real feelings on the issue. If you missed my last editorial, you can read it online here: http://bit.ly/zlDxrW. Additionally, if you have any input, feel free to submit it to [email protected] Joann and I love getting op-ed pieces and it doesn’t happen enough!