News

Elizabethan Prose

I wanted to know what members of the Class of 2003 were thinking. What were their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their anxieties, their uncertainties, and their humorous anecdotes as they started this new chapter in their lives? I had a twofold problem though. For one, I didn’t know any members of the Class of 2003. And for two, given that we were pulling the newspaper together at the last minute, as is our wont, I didn’t have time to meet any.

So I went to the classcards. But how was I supposed to choose from among the largest incoming class in the history of the school? I couldn’t fathom copying and pasting 900 addresses into the BCC field of an email. So I chose first names at random until I had arouand 50 people. By the end, I had chosen about 10 names.

You’d think that if I got any responses at all, they would come from people with a variety of first names. But no. They were all named Elizabeth. Two Elizabeths wrote articles. The third is an accomplished journalist who promised to get involved before long. In fact, only one Elizabeth in the Class of 2003 didn’t respond. I won’t name any names, but her last name looks like it rhymes with “you’re rich.” That’s right: 75% of Elizabeths wrote back. If you hang around direct marketing circles for any length of time, you’ll find this is an unheard of response rate. That’s pretty meaningful. I’m not sure what it means, but I know that it’s pretty meaningful.

(Okay, truth be told, we got a very late submission from a Monica, which we appreciate a great deal, even though it robs the story of a little punch.)

September 4, 2001
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