UGBC relaunched Campus Voice, a website that provides a forum for students to create and support initiatives meant to improve the BC community, this week. Once proposed ideas receive 50 or more votes of support from other students, UGBC is notified and the issues will, they promise, receive immediate attention. Students can vote for a single cause up to three times, and anyone who votes will be kept informed of his or her particular issue’s status through emails from UGBC.
While the site’s goals-including increased transparency, accountability, and dialogue between UGBC and the student body-are well intentioned, the execution of the site launch has been flawed so far. There was very little publicity about the site going live to receive new student suggestions after being inactive since 2009, and much of the campus remains uninformed about the initiative. Also, there was no immediate post on the UGBC Facebook page about the website, and a tweet sent out Tuesday night contained the wrong URL for the website and was not corrected until the next day.
Current UGBC president and executive vice president Matt Nacier and Matt Alonsozana, both A&S ’14, have made it a point of emphasis to utilize social media to connect with students, yet UGBC’s communication through social media about the Campus Voice site has been subpar. Another UGBC initiative, Plexapalooza, has received much more attention on the organization’s social media pages, and UGBC should devote that sort of attention to ensure that students are made aware of what Campus Voice offers them.
Another of the site’s major flaws is the lack of clarity about how voting works. Students are informed that they can vote for a particular issue one, two, or three times, yet are not told how many overall votes they have. After a student votes for an issue, he or she is told how many votes he or she has remaining, and based on this number, it appears that each student has five total votes. This remains uncertain, however, as before the launch, the number of votes was set at 10, according to Matt Hugo, UGBC senator and A&S ’16.
Further, students can remove their votes from a given proposal at any time, and the fact that votes are returned after voting for an issue is closed is not made immediately clear. In general, there is very little information on the website about the voting process, and the site’s terms of service page lacks many key facts of which voting students should be made aware.
Now that the programming division has been divested from UGBC, it would behoove the Student Assembly (SA) and other remaining UGBC branches to facilitate better connections with the student body. The organization’s primary purpose, without programming, is advocacy. Therefore, the idea needs to be planted in students’ minds now that they should go to UGBC with meaningful proposals. In order to take UGBC and its ability to bring about change seriously, students must believe that their concerns could be acted upon legitimately. Campus Voice seeks to accomplish this, but it needs to be implemented more publicly using social media. Chris Marchese, president pro tempore of the SA, executive vice president-elect, and A&S ’15, has been central in the coordination of the site’s relaunch this year, and he and Nanci Fiore-Chettiar, president-elect and A&S ’15, must ensure that Campus Voice’s mission is carried out effectively moving forward.