College newsletter aims to solve students’ email fatigue

The first issue of “MCCC Happenings” focused on welcoming students back to school. It included a message from MCCC President Kojo Quratey, annoucements about two new staff members, a section about COVID-19, and an upcoming events section.

“MCCC Happenings” is a new monthly newsletter created by the Enrollment Management and Student Success team.

Vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Success Scott Behrens said the team produced it in an effort to reduce the volume of emails students receive.

“Instead of inundating students with emails, I want to give them something to look forward to, where all the information is in one place,” Behrens said. “It’s meant as a resource, but we’re not trying to replace the student paper.” 

The full publication will usually be released on the first Monday of each month. The first newsletter was sent Aug. 24. The second will be released Tuesday Sept. 7 because the college is closed on Monday in observance of Labor Day, Behrens said. 

Behrens said the primary purpose of the newsletter is to keep students up to date about important events. 

“I like the fact that it exists as a resource for information if I ever need it,” said MCCC student Ella Ryan. “It seems like a great way to get the word out about events on campus.”

Behrens said when he started his position in October, he noticed that students received many daily emails, and often, they went unread. 

“Emails just got lost because students got so many that they just became meaningless,” Behrens said. “But they’re not meaningless to me. It takes time to get them out.” 

The newsletter will include updates about policy changes, campus construction, COVID-19 and new staff members.

It will also have an upcoming events section, which is updated weekly. 

Ryan said the blended class format has made her seek less information about MCCC events. 

“To be honest, I’m not sure if I’ll read the newsletters or not,” Ryan said. “I think there’s a lot of cool things in it about what will happen on campus and general updates, but I don’t go to campus that often and I’m not sure if I need to know that stuff.” 

Behrens also reached out to the Marketing and Communications Department to make sure the newsletter was formatted in a professional, accessible way. 

“In this particular case, we wanted to have the feel and the look of a true newsletter,” said Joe Verkennes, director of Marketing and Communications.

Before, emails from various student organizations were not vetted through MCCC’s Marketing and Communications Department, so the formatting was often not accessible to people with disabilities, Behrens said.

The Marketing and Communications team created the template in InDesign and then saved it as a PDF, Verkennes said. The PDF had tools enabled such as searchability and alt tags for photos.

“The accessibility portion is very important,” Verkennes said. 

By enabling those tools, the team made the PDF compatible with screen readers. 

Now that events are compiled in the newsletter, it gives students who use accessibility tools an equal opportunity to be informed, Behrens said.

Behrens is the primary person who curates the newsletter, but he reached out to different campus community members to write each section. For example, MCCC President Kojo Quartey wrote a welcome message in issue one of “MCCC Happenings.” 

For the first two issues of the newsletter, Behrens said he wanted to be the one to create them in order to solve any problems that might come up. However, now that he has a good idea of how to produce the newsletter, he wants to get a student involved. 

Behrens said he is in the process of figuring out exactly what the student job position would look like. He also said it would be a great opportunity for a student interested in marketing and journalism. 

Student organizations can submit events to be included in the upcoming events section of the newsletter by emailing at least a week before the next issue is published.