November 27, 2000
Want to send an e-mail message to a thousand of your closest colleagues at Tulane? The idea may be appealing, but Debbie Grant hopes you give it careful consideration first. About a year ago, Grant, assistant vice president of communications, assumed the responsibility of deciding which e-mail messages may be sent to large groups of Tulane employees through an array of universitywide e-mail lists.
Since that time she has seen the number of requests increase at a phenomenal rate. "We are being overwhelmed by requests to use the broadcast e-mail system," said Grant, who estimates she receives three to five petitions per day. "I can see why people want to use it," she said. "It's fast and it's easy. But it does put a strain on our system."
Furthermore, she added, "What is urgently important to you is not necessarily as urgent to your recipients. On average, people are already getting dozens of e-mail messages a day. They are likely to pay less attention to broadcast messages if there is no screening process."
In October, Grant presented the president's cabinet with a set of guidelines for the appropriate use of broadcast e-mails. The cabinet approved the guidelines, which were uploaded to Tulane's Web site in November (http://www2. tulane.edu/ resources_policies_listserv.cfm).
Guidelines are as follows: Use of Tulane Infrastructure Services lists is restricted to members of the Tulane community; The proposed e-mail message should be related to the business and mission of the university; The message should be of significant and urgent interest to a large segment of the campus community; Each e-mail must identify an individual as its sender.
Offices, such as public relations or accounting, for example, cannot be senders of broadcast emails; E-mails of a personal nature, such as notices of items for sale, lost or found items and solicitation of goods or services are not allowed; Messages that publicize or endorse relief efforts for victims of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, etc., are not normally allowed; Messages should be short and concise; only in rare instances should they exceed 100 words.
For topics that require more information, consider a summary e-mail message that contains a link to more detailed information; Proposed e-mail messages should be submitted to email@example.com for approval at least five working days in advance of the desired posting.
Grant said that the guidelines were informed, in part, by personal experience. She recalled the time she agreed to the request by one student to send through the all student e-mail list a message announcing the loss of an expensive pair of eyeglasses. "The glasses were found, but I cannot tell you how much negative feedback I received from students who believed the message was an inappropriate use of the system."
Grant said she hopes the guidelines will help people discern whether or not their messages are qualified to be sent out to mass recipients. "If it is not," she said, "people should realize that there are other options to communicate their messages."
For help in developing a communications strategy for a particular project or deciding how to get a single memo out as soon as possible, Grant said that assistance is available through the Department of University Communications.
Contacts include: Carol Schlueter, director of university publications, 865-5714, firstname.lastname@example.org; Mike Strecker, assistant director of university public relations, 865-5210, email@example.com; Fran Simon, director of public relations, health sciences center, 584-3663, firstname.lastname@example.org; and Rachel Hoormann, university web manager, 865-5210, email@example.com.
According to Adam Krob, executive assistant to the vice president of technology and infrastructure services, there are six main broadcast e-mail lists on campus. They include lists for faculty, staff and students for both the uptown and health sciences center campuses. More narrowly defined lists, including those directed to employees holding parking permits and students who live on campus, also exist.
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 firstname.lastname@example.org