By Temmi Lattin
A new email format system for the two undergraduate email listservs, Beren and Wilf Events, was announced on May 6 in an email sent to the undergraduate student body by Scott Stimler, the senior chairman of Wilf’s Student Life Committee. The email stated that the new system would be put in place the next week, on May 10.
The new format, termed “Digests,” will combine all the emails sent to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org into one email, with “a numbered index of all of the W/B Events emails called ‘Today’s Topics,’ which will outline the subject titles and senders,” followed by the full emails at the end of the document. Both Beren and Wilf events will be included in a single email.
Other than replacing individual emails with a compilation, everything else will remain the same regarding how and where to send the emails. Students can opt out of the new format and maintain the original method of receiving individual emails by emailing email@example.com or submitting a Help Desk ticket.
YU students have expressed dissatisfaction with the email systems for a while, as demonstrated in former YU Observer editor-in-chief Kira Paley’s opinion piece pointing out the lack of guidelines for the emails. Ideas and attempts to reduce the amount of emails sent to students have also been featured in Student Council candidates’ campaigns.
This change comes over a year after former director of student events for the Office of Student Life (OSL) Dr. Linda Stone announced discussions about a change to the undergraduate email guidelines in Dec. 2019. These details were clarified in a February 24, 2020 email. This system replaced the then-current sstud/ystud policy with the Beren/Wilf event emails and instituted a three message limit for each student event or initiative as well as specified requirements for email subject lines.
In addition to these changes, the February email also announced a daily email list of all upcoming events for the next two weeks, but this change was never officially implemented. Similarly, a 2012 announcement of an initiative to replace emails with the events calendar didn’t last.
Tamar Guterson, SCW’s VP of Public Relations, created a “This Week at YU” initiative, and emailed out calendars with events for the upcoming week during Fall 2020 and some of Spring 2021, but explained that “it was challenging to stay on top of it” because she was the only one “who seemed to make an effort to get information to students about upcoming events in an organized way.” Additionally, she ran into issues when the events weren’t being finalized early enough to be included. Referring to the “whereverYUare” WhatsApp groups, Guterson worked with Baruch Lerman, YSU Sophomore Representative, to utilize that platform for effectively advertising student events.
“A good portion of students don’t read their emails because we are all bombarded with so many of them in one shot. It’s understandable that they just give up and don’t bother reading them,” explained Stimler to the YU Observer. Working with YU’s ITS department, Stimler learned that there was a system to reduce the many emails into one that was currently in the “beta” stage, and he volunteered to test it out for some months and give feedback until it was ready to be announced to the students and implemented.
This new format will affect both Berenevents and Wilfevents email addresses, but when asked about Beren Student Life Committee’s role in this decision, Stimler stated that they were not consulted, explaining that he had been working on this project before January 2021, when the Beren Student Life Committee was formed.
Stimler concluded, “If this unusual year has taught us one thing it’s that communication is key – hopefully this change will encourage more students to read their emails, and most of all, get as many current and future students engaged with clubs events and student organization activities as possible.”