Email Overload

How many times have you logged into your college mail accounts only to be overwhelmed by an avalanche of information, and then to realize that none of it pertains to your life as an adjunct?

Last week, my husband and I were grading student work and prepping for upcoming classes in our home office. I rarely use the associates’ offices at either of my colleges because, well, when I’m there I’m usually running somewhere else. Besides, they are full of other adjunct faculty who I really don’t know. I am embarrassed to admit this fact, but there it is. Obviously, this isn’t ideal, I know. I also know that I should make efforts to get to know these colleagues, these peers. I don’t make the effort primarily because I am never in one place long enough to even ask a name. Only one of my classes is on the main college campus this semester, the other is at a satellite on a high school campus in another city about 25 minutes away. Sometimes it seems so much further. These physical and psychological distances keep me from using the campus office.

My husband feels the same way. On this day, he turned to me with a frustrated grunt and asked if I’d realized the census roster deadline was the day before. I hadn’t. I hurriedly opened my email for that school and waded through three browser pages of detritus before I finally found the “reminder.” There were notices about a white SUV with its lights on in the parking lot at one of the campuses, and various faculty and staff members commenting and then hitting “reply all” so that everyone could read their concern or witticisms. There were four notices about the cafeteria choices for days already past, again on a campus I don’t ever go to. Someone wanted a substitute, 12 people responded, all using “reply all.” There were notices about campus art shows, student senate meetings, department meetings, some general grousing about library hours and snack bar hours. There were nominations for student this and that; a movie for Black History Month being shown in the main auditorium; a food drive at yet another campus that I never go to; a dean sent out several reminders about various things that didn’t affect part timers like me, and so forth, and so on.

My poor census roster was late and if my husband hadn’t mentioned it (after his own odyssey into the deluge of staff email) I might not have thought about it until the dean sent me a personal letter of scolding. Of course, that letter would have likely been lost, too. I also found buried in the dross two letters from students telling me they would miss a class that had already come and gone (I ask them not to email me, as we are all “big people” but they still do), a request for information regarding an upcoming class, a letting from the Learning Resource Center confirming my class appointment, and a few other things I really needed to read. All had been missed. Every time I log in, I wonder why the system administrator won’t allow filters so I can screen some of this mess out. Honestly, I could care less about field trips to local car shows that the Vocational Education Auto Shop has organized.

Perhaps, if I knew any of the people in the “reply all” chain, I might feel differently. Perhaps, if I had my own office across a hall from the person organizing the food drive, or if I were going to eat lunch in the cafeteria with another faculty member, or attend the much-emailed-about book club meetings, I would be less bothered by the pages and pages of emails. Perhaps. But as it is, it’s all I can do to keep from clicking the “delete all” box.

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