OPINION: Email etiquette is nonexistent at K-State

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Last Thursday night, I leisurely sat down at my computer desk to check my email. Things seemed normal at first — the latest edition of K-State Today, a survey from Lafene Health Center and way too much information about intramurals — until I suddenly noticed a very unusual pile of angry words.

Dozens of students were sending agitated emails asking to be taken off a mailing list. Also present were harsh words for the people asking to be removed and a few bad memes.

It’s shocking, really. Even at a university that’s famous for naughty basketball chants and Title IX investigations, the student body can still find new ways to disappoint me.

It all started when Sara Luly, associate professor of German, sent an email at 12:44 p.m. on behalf of the Department of Modern Languages asking for student ambassadors. Seems innocent enough, right?

The trouble began 15 minutes later when a student tried to reply, but hit “reply all” instead, sending a reply email to every single person on the mailing list. While this is an embarrassing mistake that we have all been guilty of at some point, two things combined to turn this into a fiasco.

One, she sent two emails, the first one merely saying, “Hello,” presumably because she accidentally pressed send before she was finished writing.

Two, this particular mailing list was the “Modern Languages Enrolled Listserv,” a mailing list that can be safely assumed to contain every single student who is enrolled in a foreign language class.

Someone else made the same “reply all” mistake within half an hour, and yet another person hit “reply all” to say, “I believe you have sent this to the wrong person.”

The madness truly began at 3:49 p.m. when some poor soul asked to be removed from the mailing list. Others followed, over and over again, until a new email was being sent to the mailing list every few minutes.

People began to grow impatient.

“This is idiotic,” one person said.

Attempts to educate people on the purpose of the “reply all” button grew less helpful and more insulting.

“Everyone in this list is a college student, please use common sense,” someone said. “It is not that hard.”

The dumpster fire reached critical mass at 8:45 p.m. when these words echoed throughout the modern languages department: “Who’s ready for some memes?”

In total, 50 emails were sent to hundreds of Kansas State students, possibly thousands. I could feel my IQ dropping with every successive addition to my inbox.

Would it be too much to have some kind of seminar on email etiquette for new students at K-State? It might go a long way toward preventing things like this from happening again.

I was embarrassed by and for these poor souls who could not figure out what the buttons on their email homepage were for. Hopefully, they do not make the same mistakes when they are emailing their bosses and co-workers at their first real job.

Kyle Hampel is a junior in English. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to [email protected]

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Kyle Hampel
Those words you just read were written by me, Kyle Hampel. I'm an English major who has very strong feelings about barbecue pizza and the Oxford comma. I like to write articles about my strong opinions, too! I also play lots of musical instruments and video games, but never at the same time. Beloit, Kansas, is proud to call me their own, along with several other towns I've lived in that aren't as special to me.
  • Gray Grantham

    Simple way to prevent the dreaded “reply all” fiasco if you are running a mail list, Never address your list in the To: field, always put lists of email recipients in the BCC: field.