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Admin seeks to connect to students via email

In the last two weeks, McGill has started a new communications service called “what’[email protected]” This new initiative consists of a series of weekly emails that the administration uses to provide students with information about various events and services on campus.

Director of Internal Communications Doug Sweet said the new campaign was designed to improve the rapport between the administration and the student body at McGill. The idea is based off of “what’[email protected],” the faculty and staff email service run by the Internal Communications staff that goes out twice a week.

“[The service] provides ‘news you can use’ in one weekly email delivered on a day free of classes, when people actually might have time to read it,” Sweet said.

According to Sweet, “what’snewstudents” aims to channel all the information the administration needs to convey to students into one message, including health services, library information, student services, and more.  The goal is to make students feel more connected, and to facilitate communication between the administration and the students.

Although McGill has only sent out two “what’[email protected]” emails so far, Sweet expressed cautious optimism about student reception of the service.

“It’s early yet, but the reaction to this seems to be very positive and the number of opt-outs is so far remarkably small,” he said.

The first email—sent to students on Nov. 18—contained a link to a story run by the McGill Reporter, the McGill administration’s publication, on the announcement of the appointment of Andre Costopoulos as Dean of Students. The second email, which came out last Sunday, included information about International Student Services.

Emily Dehority, U0 science, said she approves of the new service, but that the administration needs to take a step further.

“I think that the emails are a good start, assuming they live up to their potential as vessels of information, but I would love to see way better communication with new and future students, through information packets in the mail, more extensive websites, and logistics instead of lip service at Discover McGill,” she said.

Postgraduate Students’ Society of McGill University (PGSS) President Jonathan Mooney has endorsed the new effort as a way to increase the accessibility of both the administration, and as an effective way for the administration to communicate information to students.

Mooney said that the PGSS has encouraged McGill’s Office of Communication and External Relations to move away from the MRO communication system of last year.

“Over the course of several meetings and phone conversations, we strongly expressed the view that the MRO communication system from the previous year was not well-received by students and stated that we support efforts to move toward less frequent, more targeted communication with students,” he said.

He also said that the Office of Communications and External Relations has done more this year to receive input from the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) and PGSS regarding communication strategies.

“I hope [this] will in the long term make communication more effective in a way that is noticeable by students,” he said.

SSMU President Josh Redel has also endorsed the administration’s efforts.

“Myself and many other students talked about the need for more constant communication over the course of last year,” Redel said. “I think that this new email format will provide for just that. I think that the need for drastically revamped internal communications was something that the university really picked up on after last year.”

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