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A friend at Brown University recently messaged me about a great speaker who had come to her campus. She told me that the speaker was interested in traveling to Penn and asked if I could get the event published in our Morning Mail. Unable to admit my cluelessness, I drew upon the trusted Google search for assistance. Brown’s website explains that Morning Mail is “an electronic news digest sent to faculty, staff and students each morning.” Faculty, staff and student groups thus have the opportunity to submit major university news and events each afternoon to be e-mailed to the entire community the following day. Needless to say, once I knew of its existence, it seemed quite odd to me that this service did not exist at Penn.

A service like Morning Mail at Penn would provide an excellent way to aggregate the multitude of events happening here each day. It would publicize events to the entire University population and combat the recurring theme of less-than-stellar turnouts for fascinating speakers.

College senior Therlow Huntley was surprised that a service like this did not already exist. “Penn is not only an academic institution but a community,” Huntley said. “It is the duty of the community to provide information about these opportunities for learning.” While Penn is a much larger university than Brown, there are nonetheless many events that appeal to many members of our community despite their diverse disciplines and programs of study. Even at Brown, the Morning Mail goes out to faculty, staff and students and thus targets a large, varied population.

Penn’s College of Arts and Sciences does have its College-fyi listserv, but many students — including Huntley — find that it has become ineffective because of the repeated and unnecessary single-event e-mails. In the absence of an official University-organized announcement system, Penn students have once again lived out the words on the University’s gate by making their own way. The Daily Pennsylvanian has done an excellent job of using Events@Penn to publicize the daily happenings on campus in both its print edition and its website. However, this resource is of use only to students who actively read the DP.

The Student Committee on Undergraduate Education is making the most progress toward a Morning Mail-like listserv. It has developed Ben’s List — a new academic events listserv. SCUE has been working with the College Dean’s Advisory Board (of which I am a member) and the Philomathean Society to launch the listserv to provide students with information on the academic events happening each week at Penn.

Dave Frankenfield, College senior and DAB co-chairman, said that this listserv “fills a gap in the academic grapevine at Penn. Nowhere else will [students] be able to have easy, centralized access to this information.”

Unfortunately, the listserv is opt-in, and because not many students have heard about Ben’s List, it is not attracting the attention of the entire population just yet. However, its existence demonstrates that other students have recognized a clear need for an organized list of daily campus events.

“There is currently nothing put out by the general Penn administration or even departments that caters specifically to undergraduate interest in such events,” Frankenfield said.

In the future, the University should create and automatically add all undergraduates to a Morning Mail- or Ben’s List-like listserv and make it opt-out rather than opt-in, which would garner a much higher readership. It’s time for the University to branch out and take advantage of its massive address book. For those who don’t care, it would only take one click to unsubscribe. For those who do, it will provide a vast amount of information about events and activities on campus.

Sabrina Benun is a College senior from Santa Monica, Calif. Her e-mail address is Last Call appears every Friday.

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