No Response: Privilege and Power of Email

Have you ever not responded to an email because you’re so embarrassed at how late your response would be? I know I have, and I am weary that I have fallen victim to someone’s embarrassment recently. I am sure that many of us in student affairs would agree we receive an enormous (and what many days may feel like erroneous) amount of emails that sometimes a message or two falls through the cracks of your 48-hour response deadline. This post will not answer why it is we receive this unmanageable amount of emails, but why we need to get over our embarrassment of responding to an email, dare I say 120 – 168 hours later.

We have all probably been victims of this crime but more importantly perpetrators of this crime because we do not want to admit that we kept someone’s request at such a low priority for so long and it has become seemingly pointless to respond. It is not pointless to respond and the benefits are plenty. Somewhere out there the creator of that message is probably laying awake in bed, unable to sleep, because they have yet to hear back from you. This person sought you out, was referred to you, or has an expectation that you hold the key. We need to remember that as the recipient of the message we are in a position of power and privilege. Power to respond with the privilege to already have access to the information someone is looking for. I understand we get busy, things take priority over others, but is it not our responsibility to take the two seconds to schedule a meeting, share a piece of knowledge we hold, or find the correct answer? I challenge myself, and you, to, never, when an email drops so low on our priority lists feel embarrassed, but own it and respond. A quote I recently penned goes along these lines, "Individuals in positions of privilege hold a responsibility to provide opportunities, free of guilt and without vanity". Let us, as professionals, admit our privilege and remove the guilt and respond, no matter how late it is!

In peace,

Ryan Bye

Student Affairs - the First Years

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1 comment :

  1. Love. Interesting way to look at power and privilege. Thanks for penning this, Ryan.


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