At least three times a semester, my phone is bombarded with texts from my friends asking “Did you see the latest email?” Given how accessible gmail is to the entire student body, it is easy to discern that another reply all chain has been added to the class groups. My friends and I always joke that these chains go hand in hand with midterms and finals at Wellesley –– when everyone’s stress is at an all-time high and replying all to the community for anything from requesting a fork in Tower (never forget Class of 2019) to asking everyone else to not reply all to an email seems permissible. Class groups have gained a sort of notoriety on campus because of their constant presence in our inboxes and the flurry of jokes they inspire. Besides reply all emails, the class groups house everything from org spam to administrative announcements. While the information in the class groups can be useful at times, it seems impossible to go five minutes without receiving a notification of yet another email on your device. Though the emails a student receives do not usually pertain to their personal life, these constant messages — which promote events, applications and e-board elections — unnecessarily stress the already overworked student. In order to curb this stress, Wellesley students and administration need to rethink how we handle the flurry of emails in the short term and how we will communicate with one another in the long term.
One of the most useful tools on class groups is the digest option. One of the largest complaints students voice about emails is the large number they receive every day. On average, Wellesley students receive upwards of 50 emails per day, which can be very overwhelming. Since Wellesley has a pervasive stress culture, it can be stress-inducing for students to receive countless emails asking them to join clubs, attend events and apply for committees. One of the best ways for students to limit the number of emails –– given the communication system we have now –– would be to use the digest feature on Google Groups. Class digest consolidates 25 class emails into a single one. Instead of receiving 50 emails a day, one would simply receive two or three. Although one of the drawbacks would be not receiving information about everything happening on campus the moment it is sent, you can still catch up if you go on the Google groups page. If you are interested in attending an open meeting or watching drama unfold on class groups, you simply need to type in a url.
Another way email stress could be curtailed in the long term would be through the restriction of email-related power — meaning only designated people would possess the means to email the entire school. Wellesley’s email power is rare on a college campus; most students at other schools do not have the power to email the entire student body. One of the solutions proposed by students for years is to give solely organization-affiliated emails the power to email the classes. Ideally, these emails would abide by the spamming rules of the Senate Special Ethics Committee (SPEC) and only email the student body when necessary. While concerns have been raised about transitions after students graduate, it seems like a better method of communication than having a plethora of students emailing the entire student body with no regulation. If one student or group of students were in charge of sending emails for an org, students could then filter through emails easier. By granting fewer students the power to email the entire class, we can lessen stress. If students need to report missing items, they can then go on the different class pages on social media or use another platform.
While Wellesley’s Google Groups is a cultural phenomena, it seems to exacerbate stress instead of provide entertainment or information. If there are ways to take care of students’ mental health, then we should take advantage of them. If limiting the number of emails or giving orgs and admins only the power to email accomplishes the aforementioned task, we should do just that. For right now, I encourage students to use features like the digest to help manage email stress. Ultimately however, we need a cleaner system. Let’s save the lost one card conversations for Facebook.