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Getting Your Chapter Online: Optimizing E-Mail
by Michael F. Hull - Mesa State College
Category: Chapter Growth
Over the last few years the Internet has become the ultimate means of communicating ideas and expressing oneself to a worldwide audience. It has become increasingly common to see television commercials that post a World Wide Web address at the bottom of the screen so interested parties can find out more about the product being advertised. At movie theaters and in popular magazines one will also see URLs listed directing the curious to World Wide Web sites. Since the Internet is so conducive to the rapid exchange of ideas and information, it seems judicious for Psi Chi chapters to go online, thereby taking advantage of this new information medium.
Yet, getting your chapter online can be problematic from several standpoints. Nonetheless, if one is persistent, many potential obstacles can be overcome with minimal effort. The first step, and probably the simplest step involved in getting your chapter online, is establishing an e-mail account. Although this sounds like an easy endeavor, some chapters may discover unforeseen problems associated with establishing e-mail accounts. Also, even if your chapter already has an e-mail account, there are ways to enhance your account to ensure the proficiency of your chapter.
To establish an e-mail account, an officer should determine who is in charge of computer services at your school. The head of computer services will be the one who can authorize the creation of a unique e-mail account for your chapter. Sometimes, however, schools will have a policy against setting up open accounts for clubs or organizations. If this is the case at your school, don't panic; there is an easy way around this problem. If your school has this policy, ask the head of computer services if you can set up an alias. An alias receives mail without storing it. Rather, it diverts incoming mail to preestablished personal e-mail accounts. An alias does this without being an actual accountable address. Therefore, if your chapter has an e-mail alias of email@example.com, this address will receive all messages sent to it and then echo those messages to whoever you wish to receive the messages. The bonus associated with this arrangement is that all chapter officers can be set up to receive all mail sent to your chapter. With all officers receiving Psi Chi-related e-mail, response rates should increase, thus making your chapter and other chapters more proficient in communicating thoughts and ideas. [EDITOR'S NOTE -- Be sure to notify computer services of any changes, e.g., when new officers take office. Also, put this procedure in writing and include it in the permanent chapter notebook(s) to be passed from one set of officers to the next.]
If your chapter is among the many that already have a unique chapter e-mail account established, it may be helpful to implement a forwarding option on your chapter account. A forwarding option is similar to an alias because it too echoes messages to anyone you wish. The rationale behind forwarding is simple: the problem with having a specific Psi Chi e-mail account is that it is infrequently checked for incoming messages. While one may be in the habit of checking personal e-mail daily, chapter e-mail accounts are often neglected for weeks at a time. This delay defeats the purpose of chapters being online, since the primary advantage of being online is to increase speed of communication. To initiate forwarding, speak with somebody in your computer services department. Your computer services department will be your greatest resource for getting your chapter's e-mail optimized.
Finally, in reviewing a list of chapter e-mail addresses, I have noticed that many chapters simply use the chapter president's personal e-mail or the faculty advisor's e-mail. I would advise against this practice since this means chapter addresses will change annually, thus making it difficult for the Psi Chi National Office to keep abreast of current chapter e-mail addresses. Aliases and distinct Psi Chi accounts with a forwarding option are by far the preferred arrangement for bringing your chapter online at the height of proficiency.
In the next issue of Eye on Psi Chi I will discuss issues related to setting up chapter web sites on the World Wide Web. In the mean time, if you have any questions regarding e-mail, feel free to send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fall 1996 issue of Eye on Psi Chi (Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 20), published by Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology (Chattanooga, TN). Copyright, 1996, Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology. All rights reserved.