I was happily munching on some free food after the veterans day program this afternoon, when a 2L friend pulled me into a conversation he was having with a 1L SBA representative. The topic: the degree of outrage the rep received from his fellow 1L constituents regarding a recent everyone email flurry. It was clear that the 1L felt a great deal of self-righteous outrage over the whole matter expressed by his peers, bringing up the limits of the first amendment and those involved in the online spat having “a lack of respect” for their colleagues, including those who did not want to sift through their email any more than they must.
The 2L and I exchanged knowing smiles, hearing the familiar arguments that come along with the growing pains of adjusting to VLS culture.
You see: the everyone email is not going to go away.
Unless, perhaps, the administration, moved by the relentless nagging of those who can’t figure out how to filter their incoming messages, place an unyielding ban on all such email. In which case, the impact would be akin to a ban on any other type of expression-stifling, patronizing, and in the spirit of veterans day, completely un-American.
To clarify to those not in the VLS system: we are a small school in a small town in a rural area, meaning we are, for the most part, cut off from social networks beyond those related to the law school. The school email network turns out to be the best way to communicate to the community at large about upcoming events, a need for certain services (a dogsitter, snowtires, etc.), or even sometimes a public debate on a timely issue. These type of emails, directed at students or “everyone” (students, staff, and faculty), average at about five a day. Sometimes, however, someone’s email may inspire one or more people to reply all with humorous retorts or philosophical rants. No one has ever invited an anthropologist to study the phenomenon, but I can speculate from my armchair that people are entertained by such engagement with their peers that can only be achieved through the medium of the school email system. People talk about it the way some talk about viral youtube videos, except it involves people you know on topics of interest as VLS students and citizens of the world.
I see these everyone/student emails as an easily manageable din in my day-to-day life, with the potential remind me that my peers possess a sense of humor. However, this reassurance is put into contention whenever I hear, usually in one of the replies to an everyone email chain or by word of mouth, that this VLS everyone email culture drives some to great aggravation and nastiness.
To think that some people are more stirred to passion and action over having to delete a few emails than say, child abuse or global warming is worth a reality check. Further, that people would wish that others stop trying to communicate instead of taking a few easy steps of programming their email so that they can look at the everyone emails in a separate folder at their own convenience is worth questioning. It is like a bunch of uptight straight suburbanites moving to the gayberhood and asking their neighbors to stop hosting fun Sunday brunches or dance parties in the street. Why must everyone change their ways to yield to your squareness? Roll down your blinds, or at least enjoy the music. Better yet, join the party, the more the merrier!
To be fair: the student handbook has guidelines to everyone emails that promote respect of the service and of the community. Also, it is up to individuals to consider if they are making a fool out of themselves in front of everyone if they choose to write a mean or unprofessional everyone email, which leads most to self-restraint and tact if and when they send out anything to all. This, along with amazing email filtering technology, should be all we need on this campus.
Every year, 1Ls rail against the institution of the everyone email, promising to take it down and/or not to become part of it. My first year, that was a campaign promise for a 1L rep hopeful. He was quickly reminded by a 2L that this was not a new idea, that it was not going anywhere, and that the 1L rep was already participating in the everyone email machine by, well, sending out an everyone email asking for votes.
There are many evils I would love to eradicate from this world, with everyone emails nonexistent on a very long list.