In past years, schoolwide emails annoyed students with their weak attempts at quirkiness. Whether it was an obnoxiously long Tatler poll or a dying club’s plea for membership, students could expect rainbow hues and comic sans font in their seizure inducing inboxes. This year, The Bull (Lakeside’s Daily Bulletin) has purged our Outlook gobbledygook and has promised a new era of email standardization and prosperity; however, I think that many of The Bull’s email reforms need to be reconsidered.
While students used to relay their announcements through administrator email accounts, Lakeside has decreed that nearly all schoolwide emails must pass through The Bull. Ms. Wong, Lakeside’s Upper School Attendance Taker and Service Learning Program Assistant, works hard to write The Bull for the student body every day. Ms. Wong clarified that this year’s email policy isn’t new: “the school has always wanted all schoolwide emails to be in The Bull– it’s just that in recent years, people haven’t been following that…” Ms. Wong thinks that The Bull is beneficial to the student body because it declutters student inboxes by combining all schoolwide info into one email.
The Bull does offer pertinent information that Lakesiders need to know such as sporting events, the daily menu and college visits. Even so, I would readily exchange The Bull for the clown-show inboxes of the past. Every day, at 3:00, I tense myself for the inevitable email notification and scab-red wall of text. Because some of the dispatches have been crammed with 1000+ words, I rarely get past the schedule and warnings about squash-quesadilla-Monday.
The Bull’s negative impacts go beyond my individual preference; last month, Tatler was forced to assimilate its monthly poll into The Bull. Tatler used to bait more than 150 students into taking its surveys, but the October Poll only received 50. Eric Hong ‘20, Tatler’s Managing Editor would have been in charge of disseminating Tatler Poll, but that duty has been delegated to The Bull: “Putting the poll in The Bull would be a great solution if more students read through it. Unfortunately, they don’t.” The low October Poll turnout is evidence enough for The Bull’s low readership and participation; for this opinion, I would have surveyed the student body for their opinions on this topic, but Tatler has effectively been stripped of its power to poll.
At the very bottom of every bulletin, students can submit their announcements, which will “run for 3 days unless otherwise specified.” Past announcements were sent just once, but now, students feel the need to milk airtime from our bovine friend thrice. Somehow, this threefold redundancy only yielded one-third the results in the case of Tatler poll. The need for a three-day system is both a root cause and poor solution to The Bull’s fundamental flaws. As a failsafe against low readership, repeat information has the side effect of discouraging daily readers who aren’t eager for reruns. What’s the point of reading the “daily” bulletin if the only variation is the date?
Not all students share my general disdain for The Bull. Patrick P. ’21 likes that it’s “a reliable source for all announcements, large or small.” I can also see the merits of a system that doesn’t overwhelm students with individual emails as trivial as tomorrow’s lunch or as important as a program sign-up. However, the system’s current iteration hasn’t solved the problem of stagnant information and low readership. Soon, however, there might be a solution that goes beyond waiting for disgruntled students to suddenly opt into The Bull. Ms. Wong and Stud Gov have been brainstorming ideas to reorganize the bulletin based on announcement relevance and readability. Thanks to Ms. Wong’s efforts, emails in mid-October already showed signs drastically diminished word counts. If the school continues to cut The Bull, this new system might just work.