Ben Isecke ’02, a WSO alumnus sent in this information on the WSO e-mail system and the College’s.

Anyone may unsubscribe from WSO’s all campus emails – anyone who is on and wishes to remove themselves can email, and they will cease receiving student all-campus emails.

So, Pritchard and Lucien, to the extent that they don’t want any more e-mails from the Queer Student Union, should opt out. The more that I interact with WSO the more impressed that I am by the organization and its members.

In contrast to ours, Williams College’s student all campus system is required — you cannot unsubscribe from it. But it is used just a few times a year to communicate to the whole student body, usually with very important information, such as in response to particularly nasty weather, or the announcement of Mountain Day.

Good. It is nice to see the College exercising restraint in its communications while allowing the students themselves to design and implement other systems.

WSO’s student all-campus was created by WSO (a completely volunteer student organization) with no particular oversight by the administration as a way to allow student groups to advertise what they are doing electronically. There are a fair number of complaints about how the list is run, which come in two flavors. The first complaint that we regularly get is that the moderating process is too stringent – this usually comes from people who cannot get their messages through. . . . The second regular complaint is that the list receives too many messages, because it is constantly filled with garbage. These usually come from people who don’t care about many of the messages they are receiving. Unfortunately, these complaints taken together don’t lend themselves to very easy modification of the system.

This is great stuff. Although people sometimes refer Williams as a “Purple Bubble” cut off from the trials and concerns of the “real world,” this balancing of competing interests is precisely what goes on, day after day, in the real world (or at least in all the corners of the real world that I have visited.)

A structure that allowed you to opt in or out by topic would be better. The idea has come up several times over the years, but as it is rather
involved to set up, no one has yet done it. At some point, I’m sure WSO will tackle this and improve the structure of the list. And seeing how competent, devoted, and involved the current group is, that might be sooner rather than later.

Speaking selfishly, I would much prefer that these resources be devoted to improving the features of the WSO Blogs, but maybe that’s just me!

It also isn’t clear that a group specific opt-out is even desirable. When you choose to come to Williams, you choose to expose yourself to a wide range of people and view points. Getting confronted (via a moderated e-mail list) by things that make you uncomfortable is probably more of a feature than a bug. And, if you are such a tender flower that even the smallest hint of something that conflicts with your world view throws you into an ungrammatical tizzy, then you should probably opt-out of the system all together.

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