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Although UB’s clerical error was unfortunate, the university doesn’t have to compensate prospective students

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Students know that there’s no better feeling than getting accepted into one of their top schools. But only some know what it’s like for their top school to tell them their acceptance letter was sent to them accidentally.

This past weekend, UB told over 5,000 potential students via email that they had been accepted into their intended program. A few hours later, the university sent emails to all the same students saying their admissions review has yet to be completed. One-fifth of all applicants to the university were told they hadn’t yet been accepted.

Human error was a factor in the mishap, but UB is not the first college to send out false acceptance letters. However, a large portion of potential UB students may feel upset with the school. That resentment is warranted and the school must take every measure possible to prevent a mistake like this from happening again.

Perhaps the most embarrassing part for UB is that not all of the applications had even completed the admissions process yet, which means some of those students will receive rejection letters since not even 5,000 students will be admitted.

The admissions department said the miscommunication came from an incorrect email list pulled from a database of applicants. We hope that nobody has lost their job over the ordeal, but at the same time contend that someone should be held responsible and do their utmost to prevent a reoccurrence.

There are multiple recorded cases of a school making a “clerical error” and sending out letters of acceptance in error or too early. In 1995 for instance, Cornell University sent out 45 letters that said, “Welcome to Cornell,” only to inform the recipients that they hadn’t actually been accepted.

Upon receiving the original acceptance letter to Cornell, Elizabeth Mikus, a hopeful Cornell student, withdrew her applications to other colleges in accordance with the letters’ instructions. Mikus’ parents threatened to, but didn’t actually, sue the school for undue emotional distress.

If UB wants to avoid any legal hassle in the future, they must take all necessary precautions in their IT department to fix whatever sent those emails.

Some might say that students who received these emails should be compensated somehow. But in what way? Money is out of the question and a free “Go Bulls!” T-shirt may be the last thing some of these students want.

A mistake was made, but it is something that can certainly be fixed and prevented in the future.

Instead of asking what UB should do for the students, there are other factors prospective college students should take into account.

Mikus’ story is an example of why students should always send out multiple college applications. Some schools may ask students to withdraw their applications for other universities, but commitment in today’s world can feel like an empty promise, particularly when students are receiving false acceptance letters.

Due to this environment of hollow commitment, perhaps one shouldn’t throw as many applications at a wall and see what sticks, but they should keep an open mind in applying elsewhere. Community college is always a great choice to start your college career and if you’re determined to graduate from UB, transferring after a year is always open.

Rejection is part of life and it’s not just scholarly rejection. Students who received these letters should take the error in stride. We have all experienced rejection in our lives, whether it’s been from relationships, job applications or college admissions. It is the attitude following the rejection that truly matters.

For prospective students, don’t lose faith in UB - this error doesn’t represent anything close to what UB is about. And as for UB admissions office, all measures should be taken to make sure this error doesn’t happen again.

The editorial board can be reached at eic@ubspectrum.com


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