Friday, January 19, 2007

Student E-Mail Lists

Ah, AMS Elections Season. The time of year when the Ubyssey and navel-gazing candidates fawn over "refreshingly nihilistic" candidates who scream from the rooftops that the AMS does a poor job of communicating with, and relating to, students.

It's true. There's no way to gloss over it - the AMS does a relatively poor job of communicating with students. But rarely to we get a suggestion of how to fix that, short of free/cheap beer. (I can't think of anywhere in the city, besides the SUB, where you can get a pitcher for $8. But I digress.)

However, I can think of one. And it's not the AMS' fault that it hasn't happened yet. It's that of the university. And that's using student e-mail addresses. In short, the University has them, and the AMS has no way to get them. Every time the AMS wants to e-mail students, they need to negotiate through the VP Students' Office Executive Co-Ordinator to get so.

The AMS needs to be able to communicate with its members. And in an age where people expect electronic communication, to be unable to do so has hamstrung the operation. Similarly, the University is being unreasonable by not giving e-mail addresses to the AMS.

They have two main arguments. The first is privacy, arguing that the University can't disclose the e-mail addresses. Bull. The Alumni Association is a third party, an independent society ,and they have an agreement that allows access to e-mail addresses. Certainly the AMS, with its special relationship, can get so as well. Moreover, just create a way to send the e-mails without ever seeing the e-mail addresses. Or have an opt-in with registration. Easy to fix. The second such argument is spam; the University fears that the AMS would over-use its e-mail privileges. This, while more sensible, is still insufficient. Surely the AMS doesn't want to risk alienating its members any more than the University wants to do so.

The AMS has a special relationship with the University. It's specifically authorized by the University Act to exist, student reps on the BoG must be members, and it's the official voice of students for terms of protocol. Yet the University is selfishly refusing to hand over this valuable bargaining chip. And that's reprehensible.

Let the AMS have student e-mail lists. There's no reason not to.