The Student Government Association (SGA) and the Office of Student Involvement unveiled a new campus portal for student organizations called Jacket Pages. The website aims to increase transparency into the SGA bill process in addition to providing campus organizations with better tools to manage and communicate with members. It also aspires to provide students who are looking to get involved on campus with a better, more user-friendly experience.
“Jacket Pages is the new software that SGA will be using to communicate more effectively with student organizations. It is going to become the student organization portal for involvement at Tech,” said Linda Harley, the Graduate Student Body President.
Tech previously had in place another campus organization portal known as Cyberbuzz. That system was recently taken offline and has been replaced by Jacket Pages. Cyberbuzz faced much criticism from students and organizations for being difficult to navigate and manage student membership.
“Cyberbuzz was built way back in 1995, and the programming was too old and it was difficult to make changes,” said Danielle McDonald, the Director of the Office of Student Invovlement.
SGA began the process in January of looking around for a company that could provide Tech with a better student organization management system. They decided on Collegiatelink after a round of meetings with students and staff. Collegiatelink is a company that provides similar services to institutes of higher learning across the country.
In addition to a one-time fee of $3,000, the deal is expected to cost around $10,000 a year. SGA passed a bill late last spring to fund the purchase, and the website was created and implemented over the summer. Harley explained the decision to go with an outside vendor instead of trying to create the system using campus resources.
“In the past we’ve tried to create a similar system by hiring students and developers from Tech, but compared with what it would have cost to hire a full time web developer to develop a system like this, it was much cheaper to go with Collegiatelink,” she said.
Jacket Pages provides student organizations with many new features, including the ability to organize events, and upload documents and photos onto a profile page. In addition, it allows organizations to maintain discussions boards, polls and surveys among members of the group. Campus leaders can communicate with group members more easily through Jacket Pages, and avoid going through the campus mailing list server. It also allows users the added functionality of receiving organizational updates through Facebook.
“We also hope that Jacket Pages will assist with the transfer of leadership within organizations from year to year by providing a centralized record of the previous year’s events and membership,” said Harley.
The system also tracks student membership and keeps a record of student involvement. The idea has been suggested to turn Jacket Pages into a co-curricular transcript in the future, in which students can see a history of their involvement throughout their time at Tech. Organizations must approve membership requests from individuals in order to be officially recognized as a group member.
One of the most important features of Jacket Pages is the fact that the SGA bill process has been bound to the website. Campus organizations must now submit bills online through the website and can view the progress of their bill as it passes through the SGA process, including viewing amendments and decisions made on the bill. The paperwork associated with the chartering process for becoming an organization has also been moved online.
“In the past we had an online bill system that only Senators and Representatives were able to login to and create requests. It was very difficult for organizations to follow the process, and we hope that this will increase transparency into SGA and give organizations the information they’re looking for,” said Harley.
Eventually, student organizations will have the ability to view their ledgers and track spending through Jacket Pages. The idea of this feature is to empower student leaders by giving them an accurate count of the monetary resources available to them and as a result, help them make better decisions.
In addition to Jacket Pages, a new SGA website is being planned to provide students with more access and transparency into the workings of Student Government. Harley explained that in conjunction with Jacket Pages, the website will help SGA become more accessible to students and provide them with current and accurate information about decisions taken by SGA.
Demonstration sessions will be held by the Office of Student Involvement at various times throughout the coming weeks on how to use Jacket Pages. Students can now access the website online at http://Jacket Pages.collegiatelink.net