Members of two Oxford societies have been hit by email controversies over the last week.
Oxford banking and financial services society CapitOx has been thrown into disarray after the ‘reply all’ feature on one of its mailing lists was exploited to add all subscribers to the mailing lists of UKIP, One Direction, the Young Communist League and lingerie suppliers Bravissimo and Pepperberry.
Subscribers received emails from the United Kingdom Independence party stating:
Thanks for adding your name to stand with UKIP. Are you able to donate £10 to help build our campaign for the 2015 General Election?”
Others thanked subscribers for “their interest in revolutionary communism” and to confirm their fanship of One Direction. One student commented to the OxStu that this use of the mailing list was “incredibly offensive” but that they “could not pick whether membership of UKIP or the official One Direction fan club was worse.”
The thread started when fresher David Miron hit ‘reply all’ in response to a CapitOx email regarding its upcoming event ‘How to get a Spring Week’ which it is hosting in association with JP Morgan. Miron asked “Dear CapitOx committee I’m really looking forward to the Spring Week event on Thursday. I was just wondering what the dress code is for these events.“ This was followed by a conversation thread shared by all subscribers to the mailing list which has so far reached
An email from an email address ‘email@example.com’ which is not known to be associated with the society sent to subscribers asks; “Dear Capitox Members, Please stop using the reply all feature of the mailing list. This list’s sole purpose is to allow the committee to inform our members of upcoming networking and employment opportunities.” It then continues however:
“Secondly I’d like to draw your attention to the UKIP subscription message that you should now all have received. We’re very excited to have partnered with UKIP and hope you’ll all consider donating £10 to support the election effort. Best, The Capitox Committee”
One message on the thread, sent by Queen’s College student Sunny Jain states:
“I am the Warden of Capitox.
I am pleased to announce that Deutsche Bank will be in attendance too. So, in order to create the best possible impression, dress up in traditional German lederhosen dress. This will get you fast tracked to the final stages of selection in no time.
Yet another, from Henry Manson, states; “white tie is the compulsory dress code for these events. If you don’t own a set of tails by now you will never get a career in investment banking.”
CapitOx have so far not given official comment on the matter.
This follows a similar controversy over the PPE Society mailing list, in which members of the society found themselves on the receiving end of over 50 irrelevant emails in 20 minutes on Friday, following a member’s mistaken use of the society’s Groupspaces email.
This began at 11:10 when a member sent a membership enquiry to the society’s secretary, Ayako Fujihara, in which he also cced the society’s Groupspaces email. This meant that the email was sent to the entire PPE Society mailing list.
Whilst the member received a prompt reply to his enquiry from the president, other members apparently realized the potential of being able to send emails to the entire mailing list. This swiftly led to a “domino effect”, whereby some members exploited the device to spam the mailing list with emails on a host of irrelevant topics.
One email asked the president whether or not the society had a “no jews policy”. Another, from the same sender, asked “How do you feel about Benedict Cumberbatch getting married?”
Asked to comment, the sender said: “I personally think I’m hilarious and that PPEists [sic] take themselves too seriously.”
Other members didn’t see the joke, with one asking: “Please stop sending me irrelevant emails”. Another email offered an explanation, saying: “Everyone. If you hit reply you are replying to everyone on the freaking list of group spaces. So stop it.”
The thread was stopped after around an hour, when society president Victor Jivanescu changed the Groupspaces settings, allowing only managers to use the reply-to-all function.
Speaking to the OxStu, Jivanescu said: “Basically one of our members had a question regarding his membership status and emailed me, only thing is that he also added the entire group-spaces mailing list.”
“This caused a domino effect and everyone went ‘berserk’ wanting to be removed from the list or making casual comments about anti-semitism…relationships…porn.”
The president stated that halting the thread was “the only responsible action”, after he noticed that “some were actually enjoying the situation”.
He added: “We would also like to apologize to our members for the inconvenience caused and reassure them that measures have been taken so that this does not repeat itself.”
Other members didn’t seem to be too annoyed. One fresher member of the PPE Society stated that: “I thought it was quite funny”.
“It’s just a small mistake by someone that snowballed…it wasn’t that much of a big deal, other than getting a few hundred emails in the span of a short time”.