USG debates the use of funds for idea sharing website
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 00:09
With an annual cost of $1000, the benefit of maintaining Undergraduate Student Government’s site on IdeaScale, a website that allows students to post, comment and agree or disagree with ideas, was debated at Wednesday’s USG Senate caucus. The site was well received at its initial launch last semester with around 150 people responding to any given post. However, after finals and low summer activity the site has only 692 registered users out of over 17,000 undergraduate students currently enrolled at the Storrs campus.
The debate focused on whether to try to reinvigorate IdeaScale or to start something new, such as using Facebook polls in lieu of IdeaScale. While some senators saw Facebook as more accessible than IdeaScale, others felt Facebook polls would be ill received or simply ignored.
“I don’t think we should use Facebook,” said McMahon Senator Elena Innes, a 3rd-semester political science major. “I think people see Facebook as a personal space and people [will] see it as an invasion of privacy.”
CLAS Senator Neel Rana suggested using Facebook as a tool to promote IdeaScale rather than replace it. He emphasized the need for senators to spread the word about IdeaScale personally instead of relying on the USG Facebook page as the primary means of promotion.
He said, “If you see it 10 different places on Facebook, you think maybe this has some merit.” Rana further added that last year, knowledge of IdeaScale spread primarily through word of mouth.
CLAS Senator Hailey ManFredi, a 5th-semester history major, said, “If we tell them [students] they have a specific place to go to complain, I think it will spread like wildfire.”
As the subscription to the site has not yet run out, the Senate has set up a team to work on publicity for IdeaScale, seeing first if the existing site can regain popularity before moving on to a new concept. The issue will be revisited when the USG’s subscription to IdeaScale nears expiration.
Northwest Senator Kevin Alvarez, a 1st-semester political science and communications double major, emphasized the need for a sight such as IdeaScale.
He said, “No one is going to come up to their senator…unless you go to them.”
“For all the crap we go through to get this job, people don’t know what we do,” said Speaker of the Senate Shiv Gandhi, a 4th-semester molecular cell biology major. He added, “Internally, people don’t know, or don’t care, what [the] Senate does.”
Two initiatives designed to address a general ignorance about USG’s work were put forward by Gandhi, and were met with general acceptance by the Senate. The first was a leadership summit involving all executives of the Tier III organizations, those organization funded by student fees and highly visible on campus, and members of the senate. The summit would occur this semester. The second suggestion was for a USG presence at Tier II organization meetings on a bimonthly basis. This would consist of one or two Senators attending a meeting for every Tier II organization, prioritizing in order of size and presence on campus. Teams have been made for each idea and will progress in the near future.