Limitation to Email Distribution Lists Attempts to Improve Campus Communication, Security
BY KARLEY LONG
Only Westminster administrators and department chairs now have access to distribution list email addresses, which allow campus-wide emails to be sent. Previously, faculty members, staff members, and campus organizations could also DL addresses. Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Lana Poole, who made the decision to limit access, said the goal of the restriction is to improve communication while also preventing campus-wide phishing.
“We frequently hear from students, faculty, and staff who are concerned about the high volume of emails they receive, and as a result, many messages go unopened,” Poole said in an email.
She added that the reduced number of emails could lead to more users taking time to read messages, improving communication campus-wide.
There is also a concern on campus about mass emails of spam.
Programmer Analyst Ryan Smith of Westminster’s Information Technology department gave more insight to the issue of phishing: “There’s a security concern if a phishing email was sent to the DL. How many would fall victim to that, since it would look like official correspondence?”
Smith noted that the restricted access decreases the chance of a campus-wide catastrophe due to phishing.
While some campus email users acknowledge the benefits of the new policy, they say that it may also make communication more complicated.
“I’m glad the school is attempting to reduce the number of emails sent, because so many students don’t bother to read them because of the excessive amount,” Kat Cooper, ’18, said about the change. “A new communication platform could really help those students. The downside of the change, though, is there is now another hoop to jump through to communicate to the campus. Students have to email the Student Life account, which then emails the DL. The process has added a middle man.”
Associate Professor of Education Jim Concannon said, “The email policy is an attempt to decrease the amount of emails in our inboxes, but at the same time that it restricts communication that can be perceived as frivolous, it also limits communication that is vital to the functioning of the college.”
According to Poole, the goal behind limiting emails is to create a new communication platform for the college, relegating email to a less-dominant role in campus communication.
“We also know that anti-spam laws, efforts to prevent phishing, organizational best practices, and technology have led to new tools and methods for communicating that are more effective than email,” Poole said.
She continued, “Marketing and Strategic Communications has been creating new channels for the college. The core of the system is to drive internal users to regularly check the college’s intranet, MyWC, for information related to campus life: learning, lectures, events, athletics, college business and more.”
Poole said the new system is an alternative to email and offers tools, like a mobile app and interactive calendar, that connect to the intranet. She added that limiting email access is only the first step in transitioning to this new system.
“Expect to see more changes in the weeks ahead,” she said.
Anyone who wishes to send emails the student DL list can now be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.