Lyris Lists’ Guidelines and Procedures

What Is a Lyris List?

The Office of Development and Alumni Relations uses Lyris, an email software engine, to offer a wide selection of listservs to support connections and conversation through email. With Lyris you can communicate with a number of people through a single email address. Whenever someone sends a message to one of our Lyris list addresses, that message goes out to everyone subscribed to the list.

Lyris Lists are meant for the purpose of alumni to alumni communications based on the selected lists. Communications from the college and/or the Office of Development and Alumni Relations will come directly to you at the email you have provided. Update your preferred email address in the Alumni Directory or email to do so.

Participation in Lyris lists hosted by the College is free. If you meet the criteria to join a list and have an email address, you can take advantage of the service. Please note that some of our lists are reserved for specific purposes and intended for specific individuals, e.g., Alumni Council and Class Fund Director lists are for Council members and Class Fund Directors only.

Please note: Lyris subscribers use a range of email hosts (Gmail, yahoo, aol, etc.) and Lyris emails behave and appear differently across these platforms. For example, the subject line and sender may appear differently in different email platforms, and the “reply” and “reply all” function may not work as you would expect. We encourage everyone to verify where their reply is being sent and sign their name on all messages. Additionally, some people who use AOL accounts have reported that they don't immediately receive Lyris messages, and it may also take longer for your messages to be sent. If you experience Lyris problems with an AOL account, you may want to consider using another provider or signing up for a Grinnell Lifetime Email Account.

Joining a Lyris list

To join a Lyris list, please email with the following:

  • Your full name and class year
  • Description of the list(s) you would like to join*
  • The email address you would like to use (please note that you can use different email addresses for different lists)

*Popular lists include individual class years and the Bay Area, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York City, and the Twin Cities. Other regional lists do exist and we are also happy to start a new list if there is interest. Please contact our office to inquire.


To unsubscribe from a list, you may either use the unsubscribe link found at the bottom of a Lyris email (to unsubscribe from multiple lists using this method, you will need to unsubscribe from each list individually), or by emailing noting the list(s) you wish to leave.

Update email

To update your email address for a Lyris list(s), please email stating your name, class year (if applicable), and the new email to be used.

  • If you are a member of multiple Lyris lists, you must identify each instance you would like to have your email address changed. We ask you to be this explicit because we have some individuals who want to use different email addresses for different Lyris lists.
  • Note: We will not automatically update your preferred email on file with our office unless you ask us to.

Discussion Guidelines

Effective Lyris discussion can be an engaging and powerful forum for personal expression. As with any forum, there are ways of communicating that allow everyone involved to feel comfortable and to have an opportunity to participate at equal levels. The following guidelines are intended to ensure that this environment exists on all Grinnell College Lyris lists.

  • Before sending a message to the list, please make sure that the content is appropriate. The list is intended for discussion. However, it is never wise to carry on "meta-discussions" about whether a given discussion is appropriate. This type of traffic mushrooms until nobody can find the messages that belong.
  • When replying to a message that has been sent to the list, consider whether your reply should be sent to the person who sent the original message, or to the entire list. This is especially true if you are unhappy with what some user said. Please remember that your messages should not be a forum for personal attacks or accusations. In most cases, it is much better to send a message of concern directly to one person, rather than the entire list.
  • The "Subject" field of your mail message should give a reasonable summary of the contents of the message. This helps list members sort and file mail messages. If, during the course of a discussion, you change the original focus of the discussion, change the "Subject" line as well. An appropriate way of doing so is to reference the old subject in the new subject as follows: Subj: Basketball Team (was: Grinnell College Online Community)
  • When you reply to a mail message, summarize it, if appropriate, and attribute it to its author. If your mail program allows you to include the old message in your reply consider using that option, but be sure to remove parts of the old message that are irrelevant. When asking a question, consider whether it would be helpful to gather the replies and post a summary to the list (especially of messages not sent via the list).
  • Please note that the Lyris system will not display your email address on a sent message. As such, always add your signature (name and e-mail address) to the end of your posts to identify who from the listserv has sent the message.

Keep it readable by keeping it simple

In preparing a message, be aware that people will be reading your post on many different hardware platforms and software programs. Cute pictures and long lines, which look fine on your system, may be unrecognizable on someone else's system. Your messages will be the most readable if you keep these things in mind while you are composing them:

  • Use html or plain text only. No rich text.
  • Use unjustified line endings. Those raggedy lines actually make things easier to read.
  • Most special control characters and formatting will not work on many systems. In fact, the "space" character is about the only one you can be sure will work consistently. Even tabs aren't always the same from machine to machine, and should be avoided. Many mail clients will re-map control characters.
  • Submissions in a single case (all upper or all lower) are very difficult to read. Avoid it please.
  • As a reminder, always add your signature (name and e-mail address) to the end of your posts.
  • Please note that the allowance for attachments is 50 megabytes.


When composing a message, please know that free speech is one of Grinnell College’s guiding principles.  Messages must not, however, violate the College’s Nondiscrimination Policy, which states that the College “does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, veteran status, pregnancy, childbirth, religion, disability, creed or any other protected class.”

The following are also considered to be a direct violation of the guidelines and are considered inappropriate:

  • Posts that intimidate or hinder others from engaging in the dialogue;
  • Slanderous comments about classmates, professors, staff, or the College;
  • Personal attacks, put-downs and obscenities;
  • Solicitations for charitable gifts to organizations other than Grinnell College unless prior approval of the Office of Development and Alumni Relations has been obtained. Although a core principal of the College is "service to others," we must ensure Lyris lists do not become overwhelmed with such efforts;
  • Use of the lists for commercial or proprietary work. Advertising is not welcome;
  • Use of the lists to push a political agenda;
  • Spam e-mail.

Enforcement Guidelines

In order to protect this discussion environment from abuse and to ensure the principles listed above are enforced, staff of the Grinnell College Office of Development and Alumni Relations are assigned to lists for the purpose of monitoring the discussions, rather than moderating. If you believe someone is violating the guidelines for discussion, please reach out to Jayn Chaney ’05, director of alumni and donor relations, at Jayn will review the concern and speak with the list manager. Recommendations and consequences may include one or more of the following:

  • A direct conversation with the individual reminding them of the core principles of the College and guidelines for the Lyris lists,
  • A temporary closure of the particular Lyris list,
  • Removal of an individual from a particular list,
  • Total elimination of the Lyris service.

Note: Grinnell College employees will not actively reply to Lyris messages. If you have a question or concern that you would like the College to answer, please reach out to the appropriate staff or faculty member. If you are unsure of how to direct your question, please email and we will direct your inquiry as needed.