***Editor’s Note: This article was published as part of the satirical April 1, 2015 issue
The carbon footprint of sending an email is 0.3 grams of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of driving three feet. Following Sustainability IdeaFest, an event which encouraged the Wellesley community to think outside the box to improve sustainability practices on campus, the College has resolved to reduce energy use by approaching the most common form of communication among students, faculty and staff: email.
The newly founded Commission on Email Communication will be headed by President Kim Bottomly and several members of Library & Technology Services. In addition, faculty and students will be included in the new commission.
Wellesley College students receive dozens of emails every day. Such emails range from topics like, “Lost chocolate bar that I was going to eat after my midterm” to “Submit to [insert publication here]!”
“I personally think I receive too many emails each day. Honestly, most of the time, I don’t even read them — they go straight from my inbox to the trash,” Anna Anderson ’16 said.
Other students do not view the number of emails received each day as an annoyance.
“Honestly, it’s just one more email and it’s not a big deal. I also appreciate learning about all the events going on around campus,” Olivia O’Leary ’17 said.
The commission will be tasked with seeing why so many seemingly unnecessary emails are sent each day.
“Should we provide labels so that students don’t lose their things so often? How do we get rid of those cab sharing emails? How do we get people to write shorter emails, or no emails at all? These are some of the questions we’ll be investigating in the coming year,” Director of Email Communication Ernest Hemingway said.
In addition to researching the source of high email traffic, the commission also plans to educate the community about the energy implications of sending a large number of emails. Education efforts will include a panel discussion about the negative impact of emails and a roundtable discussion where students can meet those who send out emails for organizations so as to be able to put a face to a name.
“I think a roundtable discussion is a good idea. I know I’m guilty of unleashing my personal grievances toward those who send out ESA [Economic Student Association] emails or those pesky ‘Write for The Wellesley News’ emails, but at the end of the day, they’re people too,” Danielle Danner ’15 said.
Over the past semester, students have noted a decrease in “reply all” emails, which are emails sent to all original recipients of the email when in fact the reply was only meant for the sender. Also on the decline is a decrease in lost OneCard emails. One student attributes it to “that email girl,” referring to an email sent last semester to the class conferences about email etiquette. Tenets of proper email communication, according to the document, included only posting a “lost” email if it was absolutely necessary, looking up students in the directory before posting to the class conference about a lost OneCard and utilizing the class Google groups to post course-related questions.
When asked for comment, “that email girl” declined to comment on the initiative for the new email commission but said she hopes that it will build upon the principles of her hashtag included in the email etiquette message, “#CampaignForStreamlinedInboxes2014.”
The commission will act in conjunction with a campus-wide effort to reduce spam, both physical and digital, around campus. Although not fully formed, the Commission on Email Communication asks students to submit their inquiries about the commission via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Wellesley College Public Affairs