Unequal Access to Email Lists

On Monday, College Vice President Maurice Eldridge sent an email on behalf of Earthlust to students and faculty urging them to consider fasting from December 7-18, the dates of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, to signal “a readiness to act on behalf of sustaining the planet by fasting (not eating, not consuming).“  We should all admire members of Earthlust for their interest in and devotion to preserving the environment.  Nevertheless, while Earthlust is certainly entitled to its opinions, it is not entitled to spamming the entire campus with its frivolous and peculiar impulses.
 
Note that this isn’t the first time Eldridge or other administrators have emailed the community about non-academic issues.  During blood drives and election periods, Eldridge and Registrar Martin Warner alert the community of information pertinent to these charitable and Democratic processes.  But Eldridge’s most recent email isn’t pertinent to the entire community.
 
In an email correspondence with me, Eldridge explained his motivations for sending the email. “As I am a member of the Sustainability Committee this seemed to me a message central to a direction increasingly important both to the campus and to the future that it should be shared in this way.“ 
 
But there are other issues that are also “increasingly important both to the campus and to the future.“  Some that immediately come to mind include health care reform, the war in Afghanistan, genocide in Darfur and Burma, and financial regulatory reform, among many others.  Groups associated with these seemingly unprivileged causes use the apparently insufficient RSD.
 
In light of these other issues, Eldridge’s explanation seems inadequate.  Why is this matter unique?  Will other student groups have the opportunity to email the entire community about issues that concern them?  Will there be equal access to these email lists, whether it’s a pro-life student group or one that supports the Employee Free Choice Act? 
 
My criticism of the message doesn’t stop here, however.  Unlike the spam message I received at 9:53 on Friday from donovanp@si.edu that read ‘_”!WE OFFER YOU HAPPINESS.!”_’ Eldridge’s message did the opposite.  Fasting during the Copenhagen Conference to protest excessive consumerism is just frivolous.
 
In fact, last week’s report from the United Nations Population Fund makes it seem as though fasting won’t be enough.  It encouraged policymakers at the upcoming Copenhagen Conference to consider how population growth contributes to climate change.  “No human is genuinely “carbon neutral,” especially when all greenhouse gases are figured into the equation” says the report. 
 
According to a study published by Oregon State University statisticians last August, no matter how hard green activists might try to reduce their carbon footprints, a cute newborn will always outweigh parents’ carbon-cutting conquests with its abhorrently insidious potential for excessive consumerism.
 
The UNPF report agrees.  “Each birth results not only in the emissions attributable to that person in his or her lifetime, but also the emissions of all his or her descendants.“ 
 
Based on these reports, it doesn’t seem like fasting will be enough.  Instead, maybe we should fast for 36 hours so we can really show our devotion.  Even better, let’s not eat for 48 hours and stop excessively consuming goods.  I’m really not sure what that means, or how it’ll help developing countries, though.  Because it’s not like American consumption of foreign goods in which foreign nations have a comparative advantage is at all a part of lifting people in developing nations out of poverty.  That’s silly talk. 
 
And since Americans have much larger carbon footprints than people living in developing countries and the UNPF says that we’re responsible for not only our own carbon footprint but that of our descendents, why don’t we just say what we’re all probably thinking and just regulate birth rates?  China’s policy would be a great model.  Then we probably wouldn’t even need to go through the trouble of fasting. 
 
[In case you chose not to read between the lines, the preceding paragraph was a bit of vitriol.]


When Eldridge sent Monday’s email, he stepped onto a slippery slope.  If Eldridge sends emails on behalf of student groups that support issues that are arguably “increasingly important,” then the administration must establish a formal process by which all student groups can access the inboxes of members of our community.  It’s not fair that select groups can email the community only because they have the inside scoop on how to do it.
 
But I’m not sure I want student groups to send me daily updates on events probably only relevant to them.  I get enough email as it is.  If every student group with an “increasingly important” agenda sent the community emails whenever they pleased, then it wouldn’t be so hard to characterize such emails as spam as well.
 
Earthlust’s planned stunt may seem silly, but don’t let it distract you from the real issue at hand.  All student groups must be granted the same access to the community, where Swarthmoreans are free to pay as much or as little attention to announcements as they please.  When one group gets additional access from some insider information, it achieves an unfair advantage in the competitive advertising marketplace for Swatties’ time and attention.  And you know how I get when markets fail.


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49 comments

  1. 0
    -Lets get efficacious. says:

    I would suggest that stating, "A group of individuals (or, one hopes all members of this community) would undertake a day of fasting" (email from Eldridge) is an encouragement to fast not simply a notification of something happening on campus.

    In regards to the efficacy of the fast, fasting is, in this case, not a particularly effective way of reaching any of the proclaimed goals of the fast.
    It is true that fasting can be a powerful tool of social change and of bringing awareness to an issue. Yet, hunger strikes that seek to effect change or make people care last LONG periods of time and are usually only noticed if a well known opinion leader is the one fasting. The Earthlust fast is neither long term or done by people well known outside of our community.

    Another issue is the fact that fasting is entirely internal. NO ONE KNOWS THAT YOU ARE FASTING! Unless you tell them… But you risk being very annoying if you walk around telling everyone you are fasting (anyone who has fasted for religious reasons knows this well). So, who is going to know you are fasting? True, you are making a commitment to yourself. So, it would be a fair point to say the fast is about self reflection but don't claim that it will influence anyone.

    In regards to actually making a difference for climate change, it wont work. The mass majority of us eat at Sharples. If you choose not to eat for one day then Sharples will still cook the same amount of food. You wont save anything.

    I am not against Earthlust or for fighting climate change. Therefore, I would like to suggest a better way to go about this.

    Rather than doing a personal, invisible and useless fast, a large group action should be taken. Every member of Earthlust and other people who care (and I include myself in this) should choose the same day to fast. Contact Sharples and tell them that X number of people will be fasting and they should reduce production for that day.

    Why this is effect: 1) it is a group rather than individual event. This builds social connections and group cohesiveness which is important to future continued change. 2) It will be effective, at least a little, in actually making a difference as less food will not only be consumed, it will actually not be wasted. 3) In a large group attention can be drawn to the issue without people loosing interest. You could even get a local newspaper to cover the fact that several hundred students did not eat for a day (I doubt you could get coverage for a few individuals). (yes, I know, a few hundred is optimistic). 4) You can get more notice by other groups at other schools or within the larger community. A large group of people fasting together, I think, is way more inspirational than one person who I run into who happens to mention that they are fasting.

    Lets do something that really works.

    If the goal is ONLY to be symbolic and personal reflection (which is a valid reason) then don't send me an email saying I should fast or give up coffee. Send me an email, or better post a sign in Sharples, telling me what is happening. Then, I can be aware and think about it.

    -Lets get efficacious.

  2. 0
    Dougal Sutherland ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    No one was advocating an 11-day complete fast; that's absurd. The email was for a rolling 24 hour fast, so that a few people fast on Monday, then they eat on Tuesday while a few others are fasting.

  3. 0
    Peter '11 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I would suggest a march instead, but that would be super insensitive to excessive exercisers. And a charity auction would hurt compulsive spenders. Would a sit-in encourage the agoraphobic? And that party they're having at Rum Bar isn't doing the alcoholics any favors (Swim Team, I'm looking at you).

  4. 0
    concerned says:

    I agree with "Just" a parent. What no one is talking about here is that access was granted to the entire email to a potentially very harmful proposition. Issues surrounding eating play a huge but silent role on this campus, and an email from the VP advocating a huge eating shift should be vetted not just for its political implications but also for those affecting students' health. I think it was really insensitive of the administration, regardless of the efficacy or importance of the fast.

  5. 0
    Just a Parent says:

    Fasting can be a powerful form of protest; but it can also be a dangerous form. Students with eating disorders struggle all the time with food issues. The enormous stress on young people, especially at such a competitive school & at the end of the semester, makes me question the wisdom of an aministrator encouraging fasting. Those who have not witnessed a loved one struggling, hospitalized, or near death due go an eating disorder, have no comprehension of what fasting, even for a day – let alone 10, can do to a person suffering from anorexia. Having an administrator & peers encourage you not to eat is a way for those struggling to "justfy" not eating.

    I hope that the College Vice President takes some time during this fast to speak with the health & counseling staff, as well as some physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, and nutritionists specialing in eating disorders to learn about the devastating psychological & physical toll fasting can have/will have on some of the students.

  6. 0
    Poliwhirl says:

    No group should have access to the e-mail lists. Students will hear about your stupid shit if they want to go out and listen. The best situation is that no-one is granted the privilege to waste our inbox space and our time.

    Failing that, the WORST POSSIBLE situation would be that all student groups are given access. Some Crap is better than Lots of Crap. Both are worse than No Crap, but there you go. Equality be damned, the most important thing is to minimize spam.

    And how the hell is one supposed to fast for 11 days?

  7. 0
    Urooj Khan ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I mean, I don't know the details, but EarthLust has been a driving force behind things like getting Swat to commit to wind power energy, getting compost-friendly cups and plates, setting up the SusCom committee and such. Additionally, they're consistently working with facilities, the administration, and other staff. I bet they probably have more consistent contact with non-students than any other group on campus, except perhaps Learning for Life.

    The fact that there is no committee on repro justice, for example, at Swat is not because it is impossible for Swarthmore to *do* anything about repro justice, but because no constituency has lobbied to get institutional support (ie. for initiatives like making birth control free, providing funds for abortion, fee waivers for reproductive health insurance co-pays, etc.) Earthlust has done the legwork, and they're reaping the benefits of it.

  8. 0
    skeptical says:

    It's not just that the administration is picking priorities, but it's picking a single student group. Some issues do not lend itself to administrative support – there is no committee on reproductive justice or global poverty, so if you're assuming that this is a requirement to discussing equal access, we'll never get to that point.

    Has Earthlust been lobbying to gain institutional support?

  9. 0
    Seth G. ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The point about kids is interesting. People who don't plan to have kids could probably maintain a fleet of hummers in rural areas eating only red meat and still be less harmful in the long-run than people with kids.

    Apropos of nothing, I'm dissapointed this thread is so long. Soren's central point is fairly trivial — it's kind of an abuse of authority to prioritize certain groups over others but it's not a big deal — and his critique of earthlust is not very interesting/sophisticated. The tone of his response indicates that he doesn't take earthlust seriously intellectually. That's all well and good but then we shouldn't respond to Soren as if he were making serious points. instead, irreverence seems more appropriate:

    dUd3 u d0n't like the envrnm3nt y not 🙁

  10. 0
    Urooj Khan ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Speaking as someone quite distanced from EarthLusty things (ie. objective bystander), the difference between getting EarthLust emails and other groups is because Swarthmore has made an institutional committment to sustainability and environmental issues. When there's a committee involving high ranking administration officials and board members on, I don't know, supporting SSSL's position on abortion, than we can talk about them having equal access. Maybe if other groups want that kind of access, they should do the sort of lobbying and campaigning that EarthLust has engaged in over the years to gain that institutional support.

    And Mattie, since Soren directly attacked EarthLust's campaign as frivolous and useless, I think it is perfectly legitimate for them to refute those points publically.

  11. 0
    Andy Reid says:

    @ Katie: Yep, and it is our right to complain to the administration to stop spamming us when they …. spam us. Mattie makes a good point: if some group that pretty much everyone disagrees with had that privilege, it'd again be our right to complain about it, and we probably would…

    but Swat students also love complaining, so we'd probably find something to complain about no matter what, and spam the Daily Gazette board with tons of comments. Reading all these comments is definitely a good use of all our times.

  12. 0
    Katie says:

    The administration gets most of the weight when it comes to deciding what the school will care about. Rebecca Chopp's huge thing is sustainability, and Maurice Eldridge is on the Sustainability Committee. So it is surprising that the administration is going to back those student groups that line up with their agenda? No, not really.

    Yeah, it is unequal. That's because the administration is picking the priorities. But in the end, the student groups aren't the ones "spamming" the school, it's the administration. So if you want to keep picking on the equivalent of the teacher's pet each time they get some privilege, that's your business. But it's not going to change the administration's preference. Get over it.

  13. 0
    irrelevance says:

    Well-said, Mattie, thank you. As much as Soren may have talked about the efficacy of the fast (which was kind of pointless for this piece), the real point was about us getting emails about this crap all the time.

    And re: Green Fairy's "Honestly, this opinion could be construed as spam, since everyone gets Daily Gazette emails every day…": no. You would have gotten an email from the Gazette whether Soren wrote this or not.

  14. 0
    Mattie says:

    Ok, Earthlusters, stop using this as a forum to discuss your issue. That wasn't the point of Soren's piece. The point is that your group shouldn't get access to the all-campus email list unless ALL student groups do. Which would, in fact, lead to spamming. Which is WHY we have reserved students.

    As far as the argument that the Earthlust cause is objectively important and "in the right"… I'm sure Swarthmore Students Supporting Life feel that THEIR cause is objectively important and in the right as well, but if they were able to send out emails to the whole campus promoting their issue, people would be outraged. So how is this fair?

    No student group's cause should get preference. They should all be able to send email, or none of them should. And I vote for none, because they're annoying.

  15. 0
    Green Fairy says:

    Soren, just two things for you:

    One: EarthLust received many names of faculty and students who will now be fasting. Weird, because that email was "…only relevant to [EarthLust]!"

    Two: You inadvertently made the email much more pertinent and visible to the entire community with your exasperated whining. Thanks for supporting the environmental cause so well! Maybe I will organize a campus-wide fast from daily criticisms on activist movements.

    Honestly, this opinion could be construed as spam, since everyone gets Daily Gazette emails every day…

    Stop wasting your words on EarthLust-hating. It's getting old.

  16. 0
    Huzilla says:

    To all you Earthlusters, fasters, and anorexics:

    There's a reason that Soren doesn't describe your whole campaign: it's irrelevant to his point! YOU might believe that you're fasting is important but not everyone does. Isn't it obvious? If all Swatties got to send emails for things they feel passionately about, then Soren's accusation of this leading to "spamming the entire campus with its frivolous and peculiar impulses" doesn't seem as unlikely as you suggestive.

    Be objective, it sure doesn't seem fair that Eldridge only sends environmental awareness emails, does it? This is called UNEQUAL ACCESS.

  17. 0
    Earthluster says:

    In response to "seriously," just to get our facts straight, neither Maurice nor Earthlust is claiming that the rolling fast is a "hunger strike." I agree that this is, indeed, not the same thing. Apologies for the miscommunication.

    Regarding the idea that fasting is more effective if done by someone high profile, I agree, it would be great if someone high profile fasted for climate justice. This does not mean, however, that fasting at Swarthmore cannot have any impact. This is clearly not an "invisible" fast, as evidenced by this conversation. People ARE hearing about the fast, people ARE hearing about why it is happening, people ARE hearing about issues of consumption, and with any luck, even if it is just a fraction of those people, some are reconsidering the ways in which they consume. The fight to reduce carbon emissions MUST happen on a personal level. I can criticize approaches to addressing climate change all I want, but until I personally make the decision to change my consumption habits (hopefully encouraging others to do so in the process), my criticisms ring hollow. Critique is helpful inasmuch as it does not perpetuate inaction. To the critics: continue to debate, continue to offer constructive criticism, help us make our actions more effective, and come up with your own that you think WOULD be more effective. (To "let's get efficacious": thank you for your suggestions. I hope you consider participating on the 9th).

  18. 0
    M says:

    I don't want emails about fan busses or fasts, because they are things I am not interested in participating in and it's SPAM. People should submit to the digest, and if students miss opportunities because they "don't read the digest," it's their own fault.

    Let's talk about the deer cull!

  19. 0
    Andy Reid says:

    Outside of vaguery, let's think more about the tangible possible results of a fast. It definitely encourages the fasters themselves (and maybe maybe maybe, but probably not, those around them) to consider how they can change their lifestyles. This could influence climate change at a very localized level.

    However, I'm much more skeptical about its influence on policy. Hunger strikes, etc. only seem to work when they have more specific end goals. Fighting climate change can be done in many ways, but this offers no specifics to policymakers about how it should be addressed. I went on the website from the email, and it just said that it was trying to reduce emissions and get rid of fossil fuel dependence without any real specifics.

    But, even if you did think it was specific enough, I don't see how a. this would convince anyone that wasn't already convinced of the merits of fighting climate change (i.e. everyone at Swat except maybe Soren? and Chris Green, but he graduated) and b. how it would motivate those who are convinced to work harder. Hunger strikes necessarily have a built in need for immediate action, while rolling fasts…it's like one day. If I were opposed to fighting climate change, I would probably be more dismissive of people doing rolling fasts than the same group who had not done them.

    And Matt Stafford, don't get all high and mighty because you burned Cleveland's secondary. I could put up 600 yards against them, and my accuracy is even worse than Michael Vick's.

  20. 0
    seriously says:

    Sorry, but fasting for one day is hardly a "hunger strike." To call it that sounds completely ridiculous and devalues those that take part in actual hunger strikes. Also, fasting seems to work a lot better if you're famous/important, incarcerated, or in a public place – none of which applies here.

    Soren's main point is legitimate – why should the administration privilege certain political perspectives in the messages it sends via email? Sure, global warming touches everyone, but so does taxation. It's still clearly political. The fact that you're talking about hunger strikes is evidence of that. And I know, every choice is political etc etc. But voting and non-political charity work (i.e. blood drives) are widely considered to be hallmarks of good citizenship that the administration can promote without elevating a specific agenda.

    We all know that most Swatties and many administrators are liberal. But that doesn't mean that this perspective should be privileged. We can nitpick about the difficulty of deciding what is "political," but in all fairness we have to admit that a "hunger strike" for political action at an international summit qualifies.

  21. 0
    another faster says:

    I realize that the impact of my fast is minimal. I ate at 12:04 as soon as my fast ended. I decorated a t-shirt. True, some less food was shipped and that made a small impact. Still, my actions were not "frivolous."

    But beyond the point of the just fasting to reduce consumption, hunger strikes have long been a powerful tool of protest. My willingness to give up all food demonstrates the importance of an issue to my. I am willing to give up something so necessary to body to prove a point. It shows to other people that I care about what it going on. I agree with the original "faster." It's symbolic. It's motivation.

    Sorry that you're email was "spammed." You can delete the message without reading it if it bothers you so much.

  22. 0
    Matt Stafford says:

    Andy Reid you make no sense.

    Which is why you're going to get destroyed by YOUR MOM!!!! I mean you're secondary is so bad my Georgia team last year wouldn't even need to huddle… I could just tell my receivers to run wherever… and the Eagles' pass rush is so slow, I could tell my linemen to line up as receivers and they would still have plenty of time to catch a touchdown pass.

  23. 0
    Peter '11 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    "As far as the first sit-in in history… The moment someone pours food on you and yells at you for fasting for climate change I will accept the comparison more."

    I could do that. You know, if it'll help the cause…

  24. 0
    Recondisering complete lack of effect says:

    Having the whole campus receive an email about the fact that some people will / might be fasting is not the same as knowing who is fasting and when.

    The information about the December 9th event is good and, if provided in the original email, would have been even more helpful.

    As far as the first sit-in in history… The moment someone pours food on you and yells at you for fasting for climate change I will accept the comparison more.

    Thanks for providing more information

  25. 0
    C says:

    On December 9th Earthlust will host a group fasting day in which (hopefully) a large number of people (fasters and supporters) will have the opportunity to come together to share information about Copenhagen and current environmental issues, thoughts and reflections on the fast and other actions being taken at Swarthmore, and enjoy the solidarity of each others' company. Steps are being taken to get media coverage for this day.

    This event will be further publicized when all the details are confirmed. Anyone with questions should e-mail swatearthlust@gmail.com

    * * *

    The first sit-in in history was hosted by four relatively anonymous young men in a segregated cafe. The widespread involvement associated with the Civil Rights Movement grew out of this small, simple act. While it is unlikely our fast will set into action a momentum of that scale, like any non-violent movement we start out small, but word starts to spread. I estimated that during the 48 hours that I fasted, I told over one hundred students and faculty members about what I was doing and why. Doesn't this start to count as "making a difference"?

  26. 0
    Jacob Socolar says:

    I also just want to piggyback briefly on Emily's "response to the argument that no one knows that we're fasting".

    Did people somehow miss the fact that the entire reason we are having this conversation is because the ENTIRE CAMPUS just got an email informing them that we are fasting?

    (and by we I mean a group of students that includes Earthlust members and other students)

  27. 0
    Jacob Socolar says:

    Hey Soren, I just feel like I have to throw my two cents in.

    My first cent is to heartily second Alice Evans' response. She said things really well.

    My second cent is timely because it explicitly addresses David Hill's viewpoint. There is no such thing as a "right not to be bothered by things that aren't pertinent" (David's words). I know that you know that, and I am not trying to ascribe that viewpoint to you, but your article belies that understanding (and I hasten to add that the larger issue at stake is pertinent to you and everybody else here–just because you have blinders on doesn't mean the bus coming down the sidestreet ain't pertinent.)
    I would also add that events like votes or blood drives are not the paragons of universal relevance that you claim. Large portions of this campus are ineligible to donate blood, either due to medical histories or recent travel, and many members of this community are ineligible to vote: a few are too young and many more are not US citizens. And yet I think that you and I could still agree that emails about these topics are still appropriate.

    I might also note that for anyone writing an article or a comment here "being bothered" cannot possibly be the real issue–you just astronomically increased the bother associated with the email by thinking about it at all rather than simply deleting it.

    I think that you can understand why it might be a good idea for people concerned about consumption and sustainability to visibly make the point that minor inconveniences associated with consuming less really aren't that big of a deal. The fast is symbolic in that sense, the same way that letters or words are symbolic; it is an attempt to rephrase a large and complex issue in symbolic terms that can be understood and hopefully promote thought and dialog (seems to be working, don't you think?).

    The main thrust of your article, like Alice said, seems to have to do with your perception that Earthlust has inappropriately appropriated a channel of communication on this campus to preach our ideals.

    I would like to provide an alternative picture of what has happened. An event on campus came to the attention of one of the most senior, respected members of our community. Maurice is somebody whom so many people look to as a source of levelheaded judgment and guidance. He has decided that this particular event, not by virtue of the groups that are excited about it, but rather because of the nature of the event itself, is one that merits his (and our) attention and support.
    When that happens, our first reaction should not be to cry about how the advertising market has become corrupted. Instead, we should consider what Maurice has to say to us, and we should recognize that someone of Maurice's stature should appropriately be in a position to highlight things that are occurring on this campus. We don't have to agree, and we all have a delete button.

    Cheers
    Jacob Socolar
    (Earthlust member, Faster, and mild Fasting-efficacy skeptic)

  28. 0
    David F. Hill IV says:

    Earthlust People,

    It seems that it is you that have missed the point of Mr. Larson's article. Mr. Larson appears to be advocating for fairness and equal access, concepts that liberals often adore, and for people's right not to be bothered by things that aren't pertinent to them.

    I am also glad to see that you believe your actions are making a difference, however symbolic that may be. I would suggest that you perhaps focus your energy, presumably somewhat limited due to your decreased caloric intake, on non-symbolic gestures. The Democrats passed a non-binding resolution, a symbolic gesture if there ever was one, against the Iraq War during President Bush's second term. Thankfully this symbolic gesture, much like yours will be, was ignored by those in power.

    I am glad that Mr. Larson provided his viewpoint and struck a blow for freedom. To Miss Dolson and other fasters, good luck with your attempts to obtain media coverage. Please avail yourself of these resources and stay out of my freedom-loving mailbox.

  29. 0
    Emily Dolson says:

    The Earthlust fast is a rolling fast. No individual is fasting for a long period of time, but someone in the group will be at all times for a long period of time. In effect, it IS a large group action, just spread out over a longer period of time. Moreover, our action is in solidarity with an even larger group of people who is fasting for the whole time. We ARE pulling in people from other schools.

    In response to the argument that no one knows we are fasting, I'd like to point out that we are trying to get media coverage to address the issue of people outside of Swarthmore knowing what's going on. I would say that that is a key piece of this action. In response to the complaint that no one can tell an individual is fasting without that individual saying so: people are wearing shirts, signs, and green arm bands to indicate that they are fasting.

  30. 0
    -Lets get efficacious. says:

    I would suggest that stating, "A group of individuals (or, one hopes all members of this community) would undertake a day of fasting" (email from Eldridge) is an encouragement to fast not simply a notification of something happening on campus.

    In regards to the efficacy of the fast, fasting is, in this case, not a particularly effective way of reaching any of the proclaimed goals of the fast.
    It is true that fasting can be a powerful tool of social change and of bringing awareness to an issue. Yet, hunger strikes that seek to effect change or make people care last LONG periods of time and are usually only noticed if a well known opinion leader is the one fasting. The Earthlust fast is neither long term or done by people well known outside of our community.

    Another issue is the fact that fasting is entirely internal. NO ONE KNOWS THAT YOU ARE FASTING! Unless you tell them… But you risk being very annoying if you walk around telling everyone you are fasting (anyone who has fasted for religious reasons knows this well). So, who is going to know you are fasting? True, you are making a commitment to yourself. So, it would be a fair point to say the fast is about self reflection but don't claim that it will influence anyone.

    In regards to actually making a difference for climate change, it wont work. The mass majority of us eat at Sharples. If you choose not to eat for one day then Sharples will still cook the same amount of food. You wont save anything.

    I am not against Earthlust or for fighting climate change. Therefore, I would like to suggest a better way to go about this.

    Rather than doing a personal, invisible and useless fast, a large group action should be taken. Every member of Earthlust and other people who care (and I include myself in this) should choose the same day to fast. Contact Sharples and tell them that X number of people will be fasting and they should reduce production for that day.

    Why this is effect: 1) it is a group rather than individual event. This builds social connections and group cohesiveness which is important to future continued change. 2) It will be effective, at least a little, in actually making a difference as less food will not only be consumed, it will actually not be wasted. 3) In a large group attention can be drawn to the issue without people loosing interest. You could even get a local newspaper to cover the fact that several hundred students did not eat for a day (I doubt you could get coverage for a few individuals). (yes, I know, a few hundred is optimistic). 4) You can get more notice by other groups at other schools or within the larger community. A large group of people fasting together, I think, is way more inspirational than one person who I run into who happens to mention that they are fasting.

    Lets do something that really works.

    If the goal is ONLY to be symbolic and personal reflection (which is a valid reason) then don't send me an email saying I should fast or give up coffee. Send me an email, or better post a sign in Sharples, telling me what is happening. Then, I can be aware and think about it.

    -Lets get efficacious.

  31. 0
    Peter '11 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Soren, if you really cared about this issue, why didn't you participate in the hunger strike against frivolous emails that I organized? I sent you three emails about it…

  32. 0
    C says:

    Soren,

    Before attacking the integrity of someone's decision to distribute certain information to the entire campus, I would recommend ensuring that you meet your own standards:

    This phrase from the first sentence of your article–urging [students and faculty] to consider fasting from December 7–18–is both inaccurate and misrepresents the tone of the e-mail Maurice sent. If you had read the e-mail thoroughly, you would have known that 1) we are fasting from now (having started last week) until the UN conference and 2) at no point are students "urged" or even "encouraged" to join the fast. Like e-mails about blood drives, upcoming elections, and fan buses, information about campus events is objectively presented to the student body in conjunction with resources for interested students to learn more and get involved.

    In response to your criticism about the movement itself, we fast to show pessimists like you that are shared concerns–yes, global warming will affect everyone–are best expressed in awareness-raising and direct actions, and not squandered in political debates over whether finding a solution is possible. If we don't step up to the plate now, there will soon be no solutions left to choose from.

  33. 0
    natali cortes says:

    Eldridge's email was an open invitation to the campus on behalf of a group that works to conserve/protect/appreciate our earth – something every student on this campus is invested in, whether consciously or not. To me, condemning this specific email – one out of the many that fill your inbox each day – while denouncing the practice of fasting at the same time is what qualifies as "silly talk."

  34. 0
    Earthluster says:

    Larson seems to be missing the point of the fast. As multiple responses have said, it is not an attempt to reduce Swarthmore's carbon footprint through fasting. If Larson had bothered to talk to anyone in Earthlust he would understand that. The point is also not a purely political one. The fast is an awareness tool to help bring to light the issues that will be discussed in Copenhagen, as well as to open up dialogue on campus about our consumption habits that have a very real impact on climate change. In the future, I would hope that Larson does more research on the actions he is so quick to criticize, talk to those involved, and maybe even consider participating rather than offering completely unproductive and inaccurate critique.

  35. 0
    Emily Dolson says:

    I would like to second "a faster's" response. Fasting has a long history as a means of protest and is an appropriate and powerful symbol of what needs to happen in the long run – we all need to stop consuming more than is necessary. Fasting symbolizes our ability to give up unnecessary consumption.

    We are doing this in solidarity with another group in which each member will be fasting until the end of the talks. People on other campuses are beginning to plan fasts in solidarity with us and the original group. All groups are, in addition to bringing increased awareness to those around them, contacting media. Alone, none of us may be a story. But if we stand together, it is possible that we can become one. If so, Obama and the rest of the country may begin to recognize that climate change in an issue that the public demand action on. Maybe this seems overly idealistic to you, but it's one of the principles this country runs on.

    I can see that the e-mail issue is a legitimate debate. I can't help pointing out the global warming will affect us all and it is not a controversial issue (like the abortion group example mentioned in the article). But that is still a slippery slope. This article highlights the need for a more effective channel of communication. I read the RSD, but I am a minority. Sending out campus-wide e-mails can, as illustrated here, annoy people. I don't know what a better option would be, but it seems that one is in order.

  36. 0
    term coiner says:

    soren, get gmail, dont open emails that dont interest you, spend more time writing the meanignful articles that you bless us with regularly..

    while you usually offer us a much needed balance and alternative (and underdog) perspective, this seems a little silly.

    first off, is it that big of a deal?

    second off, i dont see why you find the need to promote an agenda which tries to stratify, or order world crises by level of email-justifying-urgency.

    i dont think you intend to, but you constantly implicitly belittle the current environmental crisis, in my opinion, in a very counterproductive way, you are more concerned with publicizing your own opinion then with considering the productiveness or implications of your writing.

    i even dare to equate this last work as follows: as you perhaps consider some earthlusts work (and i sometimes agree with you) as masturbatory activism, im afraid i have to call this last piece masturbatory journalism

    with the best intentions

  37. 0
    alice evans says:

    fasting as a political strategy succeeds because because it draws attention to the fasters' cause in a non-violent and powerfully HUMAN way, not because it materially "spares" food from being consumed. you don't need a report from the united nations to tell you that fasting won't be "enough." ask anyone on campus, anyone in earthlust, anyone who's fasting, and they'll tell you that the fasting ITSELF certainly won't be — and isn't presuming to be — "enough."

    but i think you knew that already.

    your complaint, it seems, is that it was not earthlust's name but rather maurice eldridge's that appeared in your inbox alongside that of donovanp the spammer. i think we're in agreement that student groups like earthlust don't and shouldn't have access to the [students] listserve. but let's be fair to the facts, here. what's rightly acknowledged in the opening sentence of your letter — that maurice eldridge sent an email to the [students] listserve "on behalf of Earthlust" — becomes, just two sentences later, earthlust's "spamming the entire campus with its frivolous and peculiar impulses."

    while i'm not a member of earthlust, i do have an interest in environmental justice efforts on campus and in the world. and personally, i was aware of the fasting campaign prior to monday's email, but much of the student body was not. even fewer knew that the fasting campaign was open to ALL who wanted to participate — those in earthlust as well as those to whom eldridge's email was supposedly "not pertinent."

    what might appear to be the first step onto a "slippery slope" of prostituted email privileges is actually one more step in a surprisingly consistent and well-behaved email history, on the part of VP eldridge. he emailed the student body about green march last march, and earth week last april (and the aprils before that). he worked, as i'm sure he did for those other emails, in cooperation with the leaders of earthlust to author the email in question. whatever the sacred and holy "competitive advertising marketplace for Swatties’ time and attention" may be, this email is NOT the email that has undermined it.

    but unless you read every line in your inbox devoted to fan buses and dorm storage clean-outs and committee openings and ice skating outings, then that's just another thing you knew already.

  38. 0
    Andrew '12 says:

    What about all the sports emails we get about upcoming games and matches? I'm supportive of our sports teams, of course, but sometimes they are a little bit much. Last week there were what, 4 emails about "fan buses"? Three of them advertised the buses, and the last one was a message about them being canceled due to lack of interest.

    While getting excessive emails usually doesn't bother me because it only takes a split second to delete them, it's still… excessive.

    It's too bad that "nobody reads the RSD".

  39. 0
    E says:

    The Earthlust Climate Justice Fast is much more than a "frivolous and peculiar impulse." It represents Swarthmore's participation in a national solidarity movement to influence decision making at Copenhagen and raise awareness about the dangers of climate change. It is not meant to eliminate a given person's carbon footprint for 24 hours; of course that is impossible. It is an act to show Earthlust's and (hopefully) the entire Swarthmore community's commitment to slowing climate change.
    The Vice President's email was meant to inform the students about the fast and invite them to participate. It was not meant to spam, but rather to include those outside of Earthlust in the initiative. The fast is open to anyone, and the campus-wide email was meant to promote that aspect.
    Perhaps the reason Maurice Eldgridge sent out that email WAS because of his connection with the sustainability committee. And perhaps if other groups on campus approached him with campus-wide initiatives to raise awareness about their issues he would treat those requests similarly. Have groups been turned down with similar requests? If not, then this is not an issue of equal access to the campus list-serve at all.

  40. 0
    a faster says:

    You fail to make any reference to what the Climate Justice Fast is really, about, not even linking the actual website (http://www.climatejusticefast.com/). This is one of many global initiatives in the greater environmental sustainability movement that is focused on drawing attention to COP15. It is (ready guys?) SYMBOLIC. Take your silly, frivolous and peculiar facts somewhere else.

    Don't use Earthlust as a means to express your beliefs about the nature of student emailing and Maurice Eldgridge's message policy.

    Lastly, this is NOT similar to die-ins on the steps of Parrish (as one person stated). Earthlust is making a concerted effort to raise public awareness outside of the college about the climate justice fast so that it reaches a greater political arena

  41. 0
    Andy Reid says:

    Thanks for saying what many of us were thinking. Well, at least about the email, if not about the actual specifics of the initiative. N's explanation makes sense, though the idea that it might actually influence policy is a little ridiculous (similar to die-ins on the steps of Parrish, that no one in Washington will ever hear about).

  42. 0
    i donate kool aid, not blood ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Thinking about blood stresses and creeps me out. It was bad enough thinking about all the vampires [http://cleantechnica.com/2008/05/03/smart-power-strips-the-garlic-of-vampire-electronics/] that cohabitate my room. Receiving those "Bloodlines" emails on a regular basis was intolerable. I don't donate blood, so each of those emails constitutes a waste of my time and causes me to cringe when I see their subject line in my inbox. Make them go away.

  43. 0
    -N says:

    I fail to see why elections and blood drives are any more pertinent to the community than something like the fast. Not everyone wishes to participate in the democratic process, and not everyone cares to be charitable, just as some do not wish to reflect on the effects of their own consumption.

    The larger point is, its inane to try and distinguish between what is and is not "pertinent to the entire community." Nothing can be called so outright, and deeming something more or less so is an exercise in subjectivity and futility.

    Eldgridge has his partialities here, just as he does with the blood drive, and no one is denying it. And as a member of the sustainability committee, it's his prerogative to lend administrative support to student-run environmental initiatives, something SusCom has been notoriously bad at until recently. Until I actually here other student groups complaining that they can't find a single administrator or faculty member to send helpful emails, this is just premature whining.

    I also question whether or not this would have been written had it not been an Earthlust initiative, which, in all fairness, Soren does not give a fair shake. The fast is a symbolic protest and an encouragement for reflection on consumption habits, not a literal attempt to reduce carbon footprints in a lasting way.

  44. 0
    B says:

    True. Some of the a cappella groups also emailed the 2012 and 2013 lists recently; no idea how they got access to those lists.

    This is why RSD was invented–so that student groups could contact the student body without spamming them. Please use it!

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