Why is the Lodge sending me emails?

By Claire Fisher | 2/26/17 10:17pm

You’ve already chosen housing for next year, you didn’t give a marketing person your email address, and yet on a regular basis, a new email shows up your school inbox advertising the Lodge.

Our student email addresses are a place for us to email people about university related things. I do not want emails advertising apartment complexes to be filling up my inbox, especially when I did not give them permission to do so.

Manager at the Lodge, William Butler, said that the company obtains student email addresses solely from marketing efforts. This means attending things like football games, student events, or tabling around campus and offering giveaways like the iPhone 7 or a smart TV in exchange for a student’s contact information.

Kari Johnson, an employee at the Lodge, commented on a post in the Grand Valley State University Class of 2020 Facebook page explaining how the organization collects email addresses.

“Typically, we ask for basic contact info while marketing in order to obtain leads, which from a business perspective, is the purpose,” Johnson wrote. “Since we market so frequently, there is a high chance that we have received contact information from a wide range of students at Grand Valley. We also automatically receive contact information when anyone enters it on our website to create an account.”

Despite this explanation, some students (including myself) are still unaware as to how the Lodge has their student email addresses. In response to a post in the Grand Valley State University Class of 2017 Facebook page, other students commented expressing that they were experiencing this problem. Some students said they don’t even attend GVSU anymore or don’t live in Allendale.

John Klein from information technology at GVSU said while the university does not give away student email addresses to third parties like the Lodge, our email addresses are still searchable through the “people finder” feature on the GVSU website.

Through this tool, if somebody were to search the name “John” in the people finder, many names would come up and they would be able to access the student email addresses (and sometimes phone numbers) of anybody with John in their name. This would be an easy way for marketers to obtain GVSU students’ contact information without us providing it.

Information Technology works to protect and limit the amount of email addresses somebody can obtain by blocking the searcher after a certain number of searches, but switching to another computer, device, or internet browser will allow the person to continue searching for student email addresses despite this block.

Students receiving the emails can unsubscribe from the emails or contact the Lodge letting them know they no longer wish to receive these emails, but the point is, they shouldn’t have our email addresses in the first place if we didn’t give it to them. At the bottom of these emails from the Lodge is a link asking, “why did I get this?” and the link takes me to an answer that simply says “GVSU student.”

Maybe housing complexes like the Lodge need to be more clear about what they will be using our contact information for, maybe the people finder tool needs to be adjusted so that marketers can’t obtain our student email addresses, or maybe GVSU students need to more careful about who they give their email address out to, but our student email addresses shouldn’t be used as a vehicle to advertise to a target audience.  

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