The University is home to over 300 student organizations, with plenty of students also participating in off-campus opportunities they find enriching during the academic year. The desire to have extracurricular activities is a great one, and one that the University should continue to encourage. What needs to change are some of the excessive ways in which students try to promote their clubs, events, and businesses.
There must be certain norms that govern how students advertise on campus in order to avoid certain obnoxious strategies that not only annoy and inconvenience other students, but also fail to achieve the primary objective of advertising. These strategies include overuse of residential college listservs, putting posters and stickers in inappropriate locations, and placing leaflets inside people’s rooms or on their door handles.
The cluttering of residential college listservs is the least obnoxious of the three, but it still isn’t productive. If, by the end of class on a given day, a student has received over a dozen obscure emails covered in gifs, emojis, and neon text, there is simply little incentive to do anything other than ignore or delete them. The college listservs have the potential to be a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to promote activities on campus, but they will only succeed in this goal if they are not overused. Organizations should use good judgment when posting to the listservs by only sparingly sending reminder emails the day of an event, and not advertising an event too many times in the same week. Sending too many emails is undesirable because the cluttering defeats the purpose of putting an ad on the listserv in the first place
Putting up posters, stickers, and flyers on inappropriate locations on campus is the next worst of the improper promotion strategies. We have a beautiful, historic campus, and we should take pride in it by treating it respectfully. When stickers are plastered all over road signs, buildings, and lamp posts, it not only gives more work to facilities staff, but it makes our campus look unkempt. Some are put on staircase railings and then become crumpled and dirty. This is especially a problem with advertisements for businesses such as Bumble, for which stickers have been plastered all over dorms and signs in recent weeks. These posters ruin the aesthetic of our campus architecture and look pitiful when their material condition rapidly deteriorates. Posters should be reserved for lamp posts and bulletin boards where they stay in decent-looking conditions. Further good practice is for student organizations to try to remove their posters after their event has ended.
The worst advertising practice by far is sliding material underneath students’ doors or hanging flyers on their door handles, though this thankfully is also the least frequent of the three. This is an incredibly wasteful practice because an entire flyer is printed just for one person, unlike posters put up around campus that are seen by hundreds of people. Beyond this, the chance that anyone is interested in the flyer is simply negligible — most people will just end up throwing these in the trash. Emails and posters are seen by students from a wide array of backgrounds, allowing for people to proactively engage with an email or poster which they find appealing. Putting flyers under doors wastes substantial time and paper on each individual room, with no way to verify if the room’s occupants will have any interest in the advertisement. Not only are these posters wasteful, they are obnoxiously presumptuous because they assume that everyone wants to pick up a menu or flyer for a startup and read it.
It is great that so many students wish to offer opportunities to others on campus, but we should do so in an orderly, respectful, and non-wasteful fashion.
Hunter Campbell is a senior politics major from Sunderland, Vt. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.