There are two types of people when it comes to inboxes: those with no unread emails, and those with thousands of months-old messages. There is no in-between.
I happen to be a member of the latter group. In my primary inbox, I currently have 1,424 unread emails and a scary amount of opened but undeleted messages. My secondary account is close behind with 1,149 new emails in the inbox.
When it comes down to it, emails can be a lot, to say the least. I occasionally get the urge to purge all unneeded correspondances, but every time I start, I get frustrated by all the seemingly pointless messages. I usually give up after the first couple hundred.
My guess is we can all relate to the frustrations of unnecessary emails. From coupons for a store you went to once five years ago to random forwards to the ever-dreaded “reply-all” — we all prefer our emails to be intentional. It’s how we want people to communicate with us, and hopefully, it’s how you try to communicate with others.
Last week, flyers began circulating in physical form and via social media encouraging students to email the deans with their thoughts about changes to Residence Life Coordinator placements. Every dean’s email address was listed with the plea for students to email them every day until they listened.
My first reaction was one of surprise; my second was one of sympathy. I knew that all the deans were about to get swamped with complaints.
Don’t get me wrong — we certainly should talk to the deans about our thoughts on campus life. The Office of Student Life is primarily concerned with — you guessed it — student life. However, I fear that the way many chose to communicate with the deans was not only unproductive, but also inconsiderate.
There’s a very basic principle that is surprisingly easy for us students to forget: Deans are people too. It may seem like they are just rule enforcers, Club Week regulators or names signed on the end of official notices. But they are people too.
Each dean has a job (and a challenging one, at that) they try to do to the best of their ability and with wisdom. The deans also have other powers above them; they have to answer to someone higher up in the chain of command, just like you and I do. The deans are valued members of this community, and I fear we don’t treat them as such.
Like I said earlier, I truly believe we should go to the deans with our thoughts regarding student life at Harding — the good, bad and ugly. However, I think we should go to them in a proper and respectful way, just as we desire them to do with us.
Requesting time to meet face to face for an honest conversation with one of the deans is a great place to start. The administrative assistants in the Office of Student Life will find an open time for you ASAP. I know some of you have done exactly this in the last couple weeks, and I thank you for proceeding in that manner. It is mature, thoughtful and intentional.
Nonstop emails berating all of the deans are less so. Stirring up conflict and complaints with other students without even contacting the deans is even worse. We would be frustrated by anyone treating us that way, so why do we continue doing it?
Next time you feel concerned about an aspect of student life, choose to be a better communicator and, therefore, a better force for change. Don’t simply be another email inbox clutter contributor — your opinions deserve better treatment than that, and the deans certainly do too.