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OPINION: Spamming hc-allstudents is getting old. Here’s how to change it.

Filtering through hc-allstudents communications to get essential emails from our professors has become a daily chore. As a freshman only in my first semester of college, I can already tell you that spamming hc-allstudents is getting old.

Yesterday, I received four emails addressed to hc-allstudents, the mass mailing list that encompasses the entire Haverford student body. Instead of mindlessly scrolling through like usual, I decided to actually read them. 

One of the four emails was the Weekly Consensus, a supposed summary of past and upcoming events and activities happening around campus. To my confusion, the other three emails contained similar information, but each was about an individual event. Scrolling down my inbox even further, I noticed a pattern: a number of emails addressed to hc-allstudents daily, some unnecessary, some repetitive, and hardly any of them worthy of their own individual email. 

The most probable cause of this spam is that anyone in the Haverford community can send out an email through hc-allstudents. Although these emails must be approved by Student Council Co-secretaries, that does not mean the system isn’t flawed. Sure, some emails need to be sent out urgently and warrant their own message chain, such as links to student body voting forms. But, topics like the option to receive our tax forms electronically are low-priority information that senders can group into the Weekly Consensus. 

Additionally, leaders send out emails about events like the Zoom show about baseball or the Design Thinking Series workshop many weeks ahead of time, likely to be forgotten by students or lost in a sea of other emails. 

I did a little research to figure out Haverford’s policies on hc-allstudents, eventually stumbling upon a webpage titled Campus Communication and Advertising. A hyperlink on this page was supposed to direct me to Haverford’s official mass email policy but instead led me to an error page. After reading a 2017 Clerk article about campus communication, I discovered that this policy was last updated (before it was taken down for an unknown reason) in 2010. At that point, the policy stated that sending emails to hc-allstudents “is reserved for Safety and Security, the Office of the President, the Dean’s Office, the Provost, the Registrar, Health Services, and Network / Blackboard related announcements. Students’ Council, Honor Council and JSAAPP.” Clearly, these guidelines are no longer followed. 

Although I see the value in students’ freedom of speech, I also understand the importance of a clear, uncluttered inbox. That is why I propose a digital monthly calendar added to the Weekly Consensus email, where individual clubs or departments can add links to campus events, possibly leading to the option to sign up for more targeted email lists. Students could also subscribe through Google or Apple Calendar on their phones or laptops for easy access. Although Engage has an events webpage, where they list upcoming events, it does not cover the wide array of activities advertised in emails. Additionally, rather than being displayed as a calendar, events are listed, making it difficult to read.

A Weekly Consensus calendar would solve a number of issues: First, this organized and easy-to-visualize format would mean students would be less likely to miss events; second, the calendar could be updated daily by clubs, shortening the wait time for club leaders to distribute this information. 

I also ask that Haverford reinstate its previous mass email policy, making it easily accessible on its website. This would ensure that all emails sent to hc-allstudents would contain only essential and urgent information from official Haverford departments or student leadership. 

Emails from hc-allstudents are sent out multiple times every day, affecting the entire student body. Replacing unnecessary emails with a Weekly Consensus calendar and limiting the organizations able to use the email list would be two easy ways to limit the clutter and annoyance of hc-allstudents.

One Comment

  1. ben horwitz March 19, 2023

    hi! author of the ’17 piece here. bummer to see that the hc-all email conundrum still hasn’t been fixed, but I love your idea for a collaborative closed weekly consensus calendar!

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