College spam

For the last month or so before I retired in mid-July and moved back to Minnesota, I diligently sent change-of-address notices to the people who send me mail I at least look at. One was St. Olaf College. I did teach there for a few years, but that was decades ago and I assume the only reason I’m in their database is that I’m a Parent — my son Peter graduated from St. Olaf, class of ’92.

So I sent them my new addresses, and as soon as I fetched up in Northfield, I started getting spam — that is, unsolicited bulk e-mail, in the form of something titled “The Ole Weekly.”

I e-mailed back to them, “I’d rather not receive the weekly bulletin, if you don’t mind.”

To which Sheri Eichhorn of the St. Olaf Alumni & Parent Relations Office replied,

Per your request to be removed from the e-mailing list: I will be happy to remove you from the list, if that is what you would like. I do want to explain how that is done, though. Your name is pulled for this e-mailing from our larger database by geographical criteria. In order to pull you from this list, your name will be pulled from the larger e-mailing list as well. That means that you will not receive any e-mailings from St. Olaf College.

If you still want to be removed, I will be happy to do so. But if not, you could just choose to ignore any e-mailings that do not interest you. I do apologize that this is how it works, as it is irritating to get unwanted e-mail.

If you want me to go ahead and pull you from the e-mailing list, please contact me and let me know. If I do not hear from you, I will just leave the situation as it is. Thanks, Linda!

Why yes, it is irritating. So why do they do it? I’m not going to leave them any money anyway, but if I’d been considering doing any such thing, getting spam from them would surely make it less likely.

I answered,

If you require me to choose between unwanted bulk e-mail and no e-mail at all from you, I regretfully must choose no e-mail at all. I get far too many unsolicited e-mails a week, for it to be a simple matter to ignore or delete them individually.

But it does cause me to wonder who at St. Olaf decided to adopt an e-mail policy calculated to irritate potential readers and contributors. It’s not just that “this is how it works” — most responsible web sites allow people who register to select the level of contact they prefer. Someone deliberately *made* the system work that way, for no good reason except, perhaps, that their own convenience was more important to them than mine.

About linsee

Linda Seebach retired in 2007 from the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, where she was an editorial writer and columnist.
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