You may be one of the roughly 1,600 Kenyon students who receives a daily barrage of emails with the heading “Student-Info” in the subject line. I know, I know, who authorized the school to send us spam? But don’t panic; the Thrill is here to explain the meaning of these constant communications. And just so you know, our information is legit. Everything reported below comes straight from Ron Griggs, VP of LBIS and overlord of your email.
A Brief(ish) History
Long, long ago, when email was spelled with a hyphen (the early 90’s), it wasn’t so easy to shoot an email to your professor to beg for a paper extension. Email accounts weren’t for everyone. Usually they were only given to students in the natural sciences, because they were most likely to be using computer software for their work. But early on, Kenyon decided to give all of its students email accounts. And as soon as Kenyon students received email accounts, they began to use them constantly. (To this day, Kenyon uses email more than its peer institutions).
The Lords and Ladies of years past soon found a way to email all of their friends and everyone else. To email-blast the entire student body, students would type the email address of every Kenyon student in a text file and then copy-paste the entire text body into the subject line of the message. This technique wasn’t perfect. Some students would get left out, misspellings would be made, etc. etc.
Then, allstu was born. True to its current form, the bulk of allstu messages could be lumped under three categories: Lost and Found, Want Ads, and Offers/Requests for Rides. (“We experienced some of the first flame wars,” says Griggs.) (Ed. We’re looking at you, Rustler.) Also true to its current form, students had to choose to subscribe to allstu. Students seeking to notify 100% of their peers of topics more important than “Lost: Black Northface Jacket Size Medium,” still had an imperfect solution.
Finally, [Student-Info], brackets and all, joined the email scene. Unlike allstu, administrators decided that Student-Info should be moderated. To avoid the three categories most prevalent on allstu, only messages from official college organizations would be approved. But administrators still held onto allstu because you never know, what if someone is going to CMH on Friday at noon?
What you might not know
So, Student-Infos are moderated. Their moderation isn’t completed by a super computer in the cloud. Moderated email accounts (including [JUNIOR], [SOPH], etc.) are supervised by LBIS faculty and staff, who either approve or reject emails based on a few different factors. The primary reasons LBIS rejects emails are: 1) The email has already been sent to allstu and 2) The message/event has already been advertised twice on Student-Info (though this rule is not hard and fast).
LBIS says this about how Student-Info moderation works on their website:
These lists are moderated, and any message not related to official College business will be rejected. The moderator will screen submitted messages at least once each business day (normally Monday through Friday, 8:30 am–4:30 pm); and, within this timeframe, the moderator has 24 hours in which to check messages for sending or rejection. Do not expect same-day delivery of your message—especially at night, over the weekend, or on holidays.
In short: Don’t send your play advertisement on Friday at 6:00 p.m. if it opens that night. Do expect that your message will be distributed within 24 hours of your sending it.
What Happened Last Year
You may remember when Student Info sent out strange messages last semester. One student thought the whole campus should know he/she was at Bob Evans. It happens. The influx of unofficial Student-Infos was not a failure of the system, but a removal of it. LBIS ceased moderating the list in order to experiment with reducing another variable of Student Infos: timeliness. When LBIS realized that students were using the list inappropriately (or not, you be the judge), they began moderating again.
The Future of [Student-Info]
It is well known that Student-Infos are rarely distributed right after they are sent. A five hour delay is not uncommon, and messages have been know to go out the day after the event they’re advertising. It’s all about timing. LBIS usually moderates messages in the morning (around 9 a.m.), around noon, and at the end of the day (5 p.m.). If you have a choice to sent a message at 4:30 or 5:30 p.m., choose the former. The moderators are human beings and cannot (well, they could, but they probably won’t) moderate your 12:30 a.m. student info in a timely manner.
The solution to this issue of immediacy is simple: A student group could moderate the messages for LBIS. This would ensure their timeliness and everyone would be happy. The problem is that no one wants the job. LBIS has offered it to many campus organizations, all of whom have declined to help. It’s the Philander’s Phling of…information services? Griggs thinks that students have balked at the job because they may not know the exact definitions of an official message. Also, while occasionally entertaining, moderating emails is not always the most engaging work.
In the future, LBIS envisions a more personalized way to interact with Student-Info. Let’s say you’re a music major who doesn’t care much for sports. Someday you might be able to tell Student-Info to only send you messages about artists coming to campus. Your inbox won’t be flooded with emails you don’t care about and you’ll still know what’s going on around campus (with the help of SJW, of course).