From the Editor: Email tsunami floods inboxes

A student wakes up to the light of her cell phone. Before getting out of bed, she opens her Rider email and flips through the new messages in her inbox. She goes through the motions of a usual day, from classes to work to dinner at Daly’s. At the end of the day, she turns to her email once again and finds over 30 more missives in her inbox. All of this adds to the hundreds of unread emails on her small screen.
As Rider students, we are faced with an assault of emails daily. We receive so many messages, hundreds a week. The more welcome part of the onslaught comes in the form of club information, responses from professors, career opportunities from administrators, event information, university updates and more. A number of these emails are vital to our social and academic lives; however, too many of the rest are just clutter.
For example, on April 2, all Rider students received an email saying that work would continue on the BLC steps. However, one side of the staircase was still open, and anyone could watch the stairs being painted and just walk around. This particular message was not only lacking in urgency — it was completely unneeded.
Students and faculty received an email on April 13 stating that the Fine Arts elevator was shut down for maintenance. Now, this notification was certainly important for students and staff with disabilities who would have to plan their day accordingly. Yet, the entire university received this 102-word message, at least 96 more words than needed. A sign on the elevator would have sufficed. Even for wheelchair users — a call to Public Safety would have brought help to get upstairs.
Rider students are also subjected to an array of emails from Canvas. Each day, we receive messages about “recent Canvas notifications,” which include updates as essential as grades but also things like a professor responding on a discussion board that does not involve us. Good luck finding the setting to turn those notifications off.
Another example of unnecessary emailing arrives in the inboxes of senior students. Since they are graduating, they do not need to be bombarded with those course selection and housing emails.
However, this issue isn’t limited to Rider students. Professors and faculty also must fight the barrage of messages they face every day. Many professors find themselves just as swamped as students. For Dr. Katherine Maynard of the English Department, it is a dual-edged sword.
“On one hand, I like being informed,” Maynard said. “But on the other hand, it’s overwhelming.”
A statement to The Rider News from the Office of University Communications and Marketing said that email is the official method of communication with students. However, the message added, Rider is “committed to reducing email traffic in an attempt to improve communication effectiveness with students.” To this, we can only say: Amen. When?
It almost makes us forget that messages sometimes provide us with important information, such as class updates from professors or important university events. The issue is not with emailing as a form of communication, but rather with the max influx we receive. With so many messages every day, a new issue is born: The more of these “pointless” emails we receive, the more likely we are to scroll past them. The more we scroll past emails, the more likely we are to miss one of real importance.
“They are annoying, and it makes it hard to find the important emails through all the other emails coming from places you didn’t even sign up for,” said Jasmine Moore, a sophomore English major.
Club leaders and our professors should not let up on sending messages, but the university can ease up on emails that simply are not important. Also, messages should be filtered before reaching students; seniors do not need housing emails, dance majors don’t need biology opportunities, etc. Share information with those who need it, not those who won’t listen or care because it is irrelevant to them.
Allow students and professors to decide what emails they want to view and which ones should go straight to their spam. Announcements from 107.7 The Bronc are “whitelisted” and cannot be sent to anyone’s spam box. Most professors do not need to see messages about the dessert wars, and frankly, students should decide for themselves if even they want to see them.
Out of the slough of new emails a day, we are likely only to read a few. We’re disregarding messages, and we’re in the fast lane to ignorance. The university needs to lower email traffic, before our minds end up as empty as our spam boxes.

The weekly editorial expresses the
majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Opinion Editor, Samantha Sawh.

 

Printed in the 04/29/15 issue.

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