At 5:40 p.m. this evening, SNHU students’ Outlook inboxes were bombarded with emails from the Student Government Association (SGA).
The email was an update regarding Penmen Pride, the system where students can earn points for attending on-campus events and exchange them for prizes at the end of the semester.
In the email, students could find an update to their point total. They also received several other students’ emails.
“I’m getting other people’s emails!” said Connor Baldassaro, a SNHU graduate student.
Many students received upwards of 100 emails.
SGA released the following statement at 6:34 pm:
“We are aware of the email technical difficulties that occurred earlier today with our Penmen Pride email. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. We are actively working on fixing the issue. We will not send any further Penmen Pride emails until the issue has been resolved. Any further questions can be addressed to the SNHU Student Government Association at firstname.lastname@example.org. Once again, we apologize for the incident and wish everyone a well weekend.”
In a statement to The Penmen Press, SGA Executive Officer Ryan Evaul provided a deeper explanation of what went wrong:
“At approximately 5:40 p.m., we started to send a Penmen Pride mail merge email using a new custom designed system. The system had previously been tested without failure. Unfortunately, due to an unforeseen circumstance, the system malfunctioned and started to compound email addresses with each email it sent. An example is below:
Addressees 1 Person A 2 Person A, Person B 3 Person A, Person B, Person C
“Once the emails had started compounding we received word from some student of the issues and shutdown the email process. Unfortunately, due to the efficiency of our server, 589 emails were sent to various students. We reacted swiftly sending a follow-up email using our old email mail-merge process apologizing to students.
“We sincerely apologize to all students and regret that the malfunction occurred. Prior to sending our next mail merge, we will fix and test the system multiple times through a variety of different ways.”
While no personal info beyond emails and point totals were included in the email, it did include a link to check one’s own point total and history. Each link was personalized to an individual, thus an incorrectly addressed email meant one could check the point history of its intended recipient. The links have since been voided.
As SGA works toward restructuring its email system, this email was meant to highlight new incentives for participating in Penmen Pride. Namely, cash prizes up to $500 will be awarded to raffle winners. Students will also be able to win cash prizes based on their rank among fellow participants.