Professor Bans Email

Ban emailSpring-Serenity Duvall, assistant professor of communications at Salem University, got tired of responding to students' emails:

"For years, student emails have been an assault on professors, sometimes with inappropriate informality, sometimes just simply not understanding that professors should not have to respond immediately. In a fit of self-preservation, I decided: no more. This is where I make my stand!"

With her department head's approval, Duvall banned all emails from students unless they are writing to schedule a meeting with her. In her course syllabus, she explains her rationale: 

"E-mail: You should only use email as a tool to set up a one-on-one meeting with me if office hours conflict with your schedule. Use the subject line "'Meeting request.' Your message should include at least two times when you would like to meet and a brief (one-two sentence) description of the reason for the meeting. Emails sent for any other reason will not be considered or acknowledged. I strongly encourage you to ask questions about the syllabus and assignments during class time. For more in-depth discussions (such as guidance on assignments) please plan to meet in person or call my office. Our conversations should take place in person or over the phone rather than via email, thus allowing us to get to know each other better and fostering a more collegial learning atmosphere."

According to Duvall, the ban has been successful: She spends less time responding to minor emails and more time talking with students on the phone or in her office. She has made one exception to the policy and allows students to email course-related content. 

Discussion Starters:

  • What's your view of Duvall's new policy? How would you react as a student?
  • The top comment on the story was, "95% of the emails you receive as a professor can be answered by ‘read the syllabus.'" Do you agree with this statement?