Editorial: Online concern box is new age for a tech-savvy USG
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Last Friday, Jan. 27, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) launched a new online dropbox that allows students to voice their concerns about anything on campus. If used correctly by students and USG, it could completely change how the organization governs in the future.
The effort put into creating the the concern box speaks to the Public Relations Committee’s and USG’s commitment to addressing students concerns. It means they are open to allowing the student body to keep track of their work and know when an initiative falls short. They’re opening themselves up to constructive criticism, all complaints and even outright trolling by anonymous students. This attitude is prevalent in a lot of USG’s initiatives, the concern box takes it to a whole other level in a clever, high tech manner.
Feedback Fridays, a weekly occurrence in which USG members poll students as they walk through select couple buildings on campus, already allows USG to find credible answers about how students feel about certain issues. Feedback Fridays already puts USG miles ahead of other campus organizations that advocate for students; it’s easily the most active, pinpointed attempt to find out what students are feeling.
What the polling can lack is an opportunity for students to bring up concerns themselves with a level of detail that would help USG understand the issue and allow the student to be satisfied with the opportunity to express themselves.
Unlike polling, the concern box allows students to reach out to USG as soon as they notice a concern via whatever device they have on them by going to change.case.edu. When submitting a concern, students have the option to leave their contact information to receive direct responses, or they can remain anonymous if they feel their issue is broad enough to be addressed without speaking directly to a representative.
The design is careful to take differences in students’ comfort into account. Students that are comfortable being identified and want to vocally keep track of an initiative’s progress, can do so; those troubled by sharing their identity don’t have to, but may still see general updates on the initiative.
What will be key for the concern box to function is for USG to properly advertise the website. In a twist, the Public Relations Committee is good at hearing from students but can have trouble with getting students to hear USG.
Only performing the regular means of announcement would force a sad and early death on the system. The concern concern box should be integrated with New Student Orientation. We encourage USG to regularly present the concern box to faculty, who can then reinforce it to students at the beginning of each semester.
We also encourage USG to release regular announcements about what concerns and the number of concerns about a specific topics should be released to the student body. This reinforces the concern box’s presence and that concerns are being taken seriously by USG. (We know USG will take the concerns to heart, but that has to be communicated to students.)
Aside from the anonymous dropbox, an online initiative tracker is also being produced to keep track of USG’s progress on campus issues.
Representatives will be responsible for updating the initiatives progress on a weekly basis by posting written documents to the site. However, the progress will not simply be forgotten once an update occurs. USG plans to archive the published materials for use in the future. The archives can show how situations on campus were handled in the past by USG, and how certain initiatives were met by students.
This means that initiatives and their progress will not be lost between USG administrations and between student classes; initiatives that began over four years ago will simply not disappear when those pushing for them graduate.
Transparency and constant feedback allows campus leaders to understand their relationship with students. Change happens when students speak out about their satisfactions and dissatisfactions.
Other groups that say they advocate for students: take notice.