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Mass email to almost 250 people named ‘Nicole’ spurs community at U of C

By Jason Herring, September 9 2018

If your name is Nicole and you’re a member of the University of Calgary community, then you probably already know what this story is about.

On Sept. 7, 246 U of C staff, students, faculty and alumni with ‘Nicole’ in their name or email address received a mass email from Carlos, a man looking to connect with a woman named Nicole whom he met the previous night.

The email was sent with the subject line, “Met you last night and you gave me the wrong number” and noted that the Nicole in question is “from Holland and [thinks philosopher Friedrich] Nietzsche is depressing.” Carlos attached his cell phone number to the email for the lost Nicole to text.

Carlos presumably used the U of C institutional directory, accessible through the Office 365 webmail interface, to find who to send his emails to.

Recipients of the email quickly began talking among themselves. One Nicole suggested, “Shall we ALL reply saying that we are the real Nicole who he met?” Another proposed, “I say we arrange a Nicole party instead.”

The latter idea proved popular, as a Facebook group was created for the Nicoles, who then arranged to meetup the same evening at Side Street Pub & Grill in Kensington. About 20 Nicoles showed up to the event.

“It was really interesting to see just how willing everyone was to get together with a bunch of complete strangers and also just how diverse it ended up being,” said Nicole McCoy, a U of C lab technician who was among the email’s recipients. “I think we had a Nicole from every faculty, we had a staff member, we had last-year students, we had first-year students.”

McCoy’s first impression of the email was that it was a brave gesture on Carlos’s part.

“My first thought was, I mean, good for him,” she said. “That’s really putting yourself out there to email 246 women you’ve never met before. Obviously the original Nicole made a pretty big impression.”

Not all email recipients were amused, however. One professor forwarded the email chain to Elizabeth Cannon, asking the U of C president for help with the situation —  “My phone is going off every 5 minutes and it’s bothersome. Can you help me out with this issue?” she asked.

While the mass email was effective in bringing together a community of Nicoles, it also accomplished Carlos’s original goal. McCoy said that the Nicole in question didn’t receive the email herself but joined the community Facebook group after hearing about it.

“Apparently it was a total mistake she gave him the wrong number, that’s what she told us,” McCoy said. “She just got a new number since she was an exchange student and she didn’t know her Canadian number.”

Carlos could not be reached for comment — hopefully because he’s too busy spending time with his lost-connection Nicole.

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