New YU Email System Sparks Controversy in the Undergraduate Student Body

By: Fruma Landa and Molly Meisels  |  February 25, 2020
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By Fruma Landa and Molly Meisels

On Thursday, February 20th, Linda Stone, Yeshiva University’s Director of Student Events, informed the YU Observer that changes to the stud email system, first discussed in December, will be enacted on March 1. “I’m working with IT on the backend. I’m hoping it’ll happen on the timeline,” said Stone. This information was shared with the entire undergraduate student body on February 24th via the ystud and sstud system. 

In the informative sheet sent to the undergraduate student body, Stone outlined the regulations regarding the emailing process for club and event updates. Emails that contain announcements pertaining to the Beren Campus can be sent to Berenevents@yu.edu, and emails that pertain to the Wilf Campus can be sent to Wilfevents@yu.edu. The previously used email addresses, ystud@yu.edu and sstud@yu.edu, will no longer be in service. Stone told the YU Observer that if students attempt to send emails to these out-of-service addresses, they will receive a message describing the email changes. 

The moderators of the new mailing lists will not approve more than three emails announcing one event or initiative. Additionally, “one daily email listing all events for the upcoming two weeks will be sent to students YU email address.” The subject line of the email must contain the event or club name and the date of the event. Subject lines with creative phrases or additional information will not be approved, as there have been student complaints in the past about disingenuous subject lines used to gain attention for emails. Announcements unrelated to events but regarding student organizations, like sign-ups and updates, must contain the club or group name and a description, for example, “Join the TAMID Board – Deadline Feb 15.”

Aside from using the email service, Stone stresses that there are other ways to advertise events on campus. Clubs and groups may submit a flyer advertising their event along with their event request form through the Student Life Event Request and Fund form. Once approved, their event will be listed on the YU events calendar. In addition, the Office of Student Life will print 20 flyers, per each approved event, which can be hung up around campus by event organizers. Stone urges students to utilize social media platforms to promote events as well.

These changes are being implemented following years of growing student discontent with the email system, which sends students dozens of emails at a time and a few dozen per day. Elka Wiesenberg, SCWSC VP of Clubs, shared her thoughts on the changes with the YU Observer: “Our hope is that the new email system will allow for less clutter and annoyance in students’ inboxes, while still keeping the student body informed of all the amazing programming on campus.” Other student leaders share similar sentiments, as they use the listserv system often. “I’m excited to see the new email system put into action. I think that it will be a much more comprehensive system that benefits both the student leaders sending emails and students whose inboxes will no longer get flooded,” said Baruch Lerman, the freshman class president on the Wilf Campus. Zachary Greenberg, the president of the Yeshiva Student Union, agreed with Lerman, but stated that he rather the date be placed before the event name to keep the email system more organized. He told the YU Observer his overall view on the new system: “Ystuds are my primary form of social media, so I am looking forward to see how these new updates will play out.”

Even though the YU Observer, The Commentator, and the Yeshiva College Dramatics Society are not officially student council-directed organizations, they will be permitted to advertise events and updates along with the 167 student council-approved clubs. 

Some club presidents are looking forward to the new changes. SJ Tannenbaum, the president of the YU Menswear Club, said, “I commend the OSL and any parties responsible for implementing this new email system change and [I] look forward to hearing students’ feedback on it.” However, other leaders are disappointed by these new changes, as they believe the new system will be just as ineffective as the ystud/sstud system. “The changes made do not actually help people who were already reading the 100s of emails being sent weekly. Either people open their emails or they don’t. Changing the email address or subject lines is not going to change that,” shared Elisheva Donath, the co-president of the Painting Club. 

The biggest complaint from club leaders relates to the lack of creativity in the new system. Eli Azizollahoff, the president of the Stern College Dramatics Society, said, “I understand why they would make this change. People get a very intense onslaught of emails multiple times a day to the point where it’s difficult to even follow things being sent to you and know what events are going on…but to change it in the way they did just takes all the personality out of the posts. It’ll be an onslaught of things that are boring now.” Sarah Brill, the co-president of the YU College Democrats agreed with Azizollahoff’s sentiment: “The fact of the matter is that mass emails are a mess, but controlling creative freedom is worse[…] With these new restrictions, such as no creative titles or slogans, it may decrease event turn-out which will not benefit the club.” 

Additionally, club leaders voiced concerns about the 3-email maximum. Azizollahoff is aware of the need for change in the email system, but doesn’t believe that 3 emails per event is the way to go about it. Azizollahoff shared, “The fact that you can only send 3 for any given event means that if you don’t see those 3 you won’t know the event’s going on. At the same time, you don’t want to get 16 for the same event, but if you miss those 3, you don’t know what’s happening.”

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