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Open Letter to Suzanne Case

A student-authored email sent to the WILLIAMS-STUDENT email group, which has limited access (my short thoughts on the matter below):

Hello everyone,
Yesterday, October 20th was the 100th day of the stand for Mauna Kea, and we are circulating an open letter in solidarity with Kiaʻi Mauna, the protectors of Mauna Kea in Hawai’i. Please sign our letter to Williams College alumna Suzanne D. Case, Chairperson of Hawaiʻiʻs Board of Land and Natural Resources. Stand with us to protect Mauna Kea and all other sacred spaces.
Thank you for your support!
The use (some, including me, might call it abuse) of the all-student email group by individual students or unofficial/official student organizations has skyrocketed in the past couple of years. Without commenting on the subject matter at hand (another author can do so), I just don’t find this petition or many of the other emails sent to the student body by students relevant to the campus community or campus life at all. A few years ago, the emails we got were from ACE announcing Spring Fling or other all-campus events…now, we frequently get emails pertaining to petitions, talks, etc. Rumor has it the College Council (Co-)Presidents have access to and can give out this email group to students (i.e., to people and causes they deem worthy…). Now, I’m not saying there’s any (*cough* far-left *cough*) bias or subjectivity to these types of emails…but I have a bunch of them that may indicate otherwise.
Update: Last night, 371 people had signed the petition, and now it is up to 501. I don’t know if that increase has anything to do with circulating this petition to the student body, but I suspect it (at least in part) does.
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4 Comments To "Open Letter to Suzanne Case"

#1 Comment By class2019 On October 23, 2019 @ 8:20 pm

Just noting that any student/organization can send an email to the student listserv. You simply send it to the email, and the CC Presidents approve it as long as it pertains to student involvement of any kind (so in this case getting students to sign a survey). So it may be that “left” students are more active in sending out these emails than other students…

#2 Comment By timothyjohn On October 24, 2019 @ 1:07 am


That is probably true, that the “bias” I see and am complaining about is more about what types of students/organizations ask for the use of the listserv (and their relative prevalence at Williams) and less about whether or not the CC Presidents are standing in the way of more “conservative” emails (although, I suppose we might never know if they are putting in bias–you and I would never see an email the CC Presidents turn away!). I suppose my larger argument is that no one should be able to send out these Williams-tangential emails to the student body. I take a very narrow view of what the all-student listserv should be used for–informing students about Spring Fling is a perfect example. I think having “student involvement of any kind” as the criteria for what counts is way too vague to be applied without some sort of subjectivity at some point. What if the petition wasn’t to a Williams alum? (Which makes me think, we may have gotten one of those last year…). My criteria would be:

1) The email has to do with specifically an on-campus event.
2) Email isn’t soliciting something like signatures, support, or even attendance (not necessarily sold on the last one, but I suppose what I’m thinking is that an email boringly stating there is going to be an on-campus protest/campus-wide dance is OK, but an email asking for huge turnout to make a difference/justify Spring Fling is not OK).

As with most things people complain too much about, I am just annoyed by this in its current form, as I view these types of emails as spamming my inbox. On a deeper level, I am genuinely concerned the vague criteria for approving emails can be used to reinforce biases and control what information goes out to the student body.

#3 Comment By abl On October 24, 2019 @ 11:56 am

TJ — how many of these all-campus emails do you get? Are these coming around once a week? Or are you getting ten?

#4 Comment By timothyjohn On October 24, 2019 @ 12:20 pm

It really varies, and depends on what you count as an all-campus email. The ones from students usually come around once every week or two (or very often depending on if something is happening, see: last semester). They are, however, in addition to a slew of other all-campus emails from Maud, the deans, Davis Center, and College Council. The “spamming my inbox” frustration more has to do with the overall amount, which student-sent emails contribute to. Like I said though, I am also concerned about bias in the student emails that get out, and I at least pay way more attention to an email I get from a student than one from a dean.