The Student Government Association (SGA) discussed the University’s proposals for new avenues for communication during its weekly meeting on Tuesday, March 16.
Executive President Sam Mollin shared that the University is considering to establish a new two-way texting platform that could be used to deliver major announcements, such as those pertaining to COVID-19. It would operate separately from the existing emergency announcement system.
Senior Class Senator Ananya Kalahasti questioned how this texting platform would be more effective than the University’s emails.
“Can I text this thing questions about when deadlines are for the Registrar's office versus what things would need to be processed through those emails?” she asked. “Those distinctions need to be clear as to what text services can actually handle versus what it can’t.”
Sophomore Class President Anthony Singleton stressed that the University needs to set a clear and limited criteria for the messages that will be sent through the platform.
“I get 70 emails a day, and if that was 70 texts, I can see myself muting it and not looking at it anymore,” he said.
According to Freshman Class Senator Elaina Regier, some members of the freshman class have been using Remind, an app for two-way communication in educational settings, and would be interested in expanding its services.
Freshman Class Senator Ireland Parrish added that the freshman class would appreciate having an easier method to contact the administration.
“A sentiment that a lot of freshmen have right now is that we are not used to contacting admin. It would be nice to have something a little more interpersonal, which would be useful with texting,” she said.
Junior Class Senator Subha Batta expressed her concerns about the length of response time to texts.
“Administration and staff already take a long time to respond to our emails. If we’re having this two-way system, we need to ensure that they’re getting responses in a timely manner,” she said. “If this whole two-way system response time is the same as an email, there’s really no point in having it.”
The University also proposed a frequently asked questions platform in which students can subscribe to relevant threads.
Regier stated that existing frequently asked questions sites across the University, such as the one for the Sheridan Libraries, are rarely updated and voiced concern on how often the proposed system would address new questions.
“It does not get updated at all. There’s really no point if people are asking questions and not getting answers,” she said.
SGA also discussed topics to discuss with Dean of Student Life Smita Ruzicka and Director of Student Outreach and Support Elizabeth Winberry on isolation and quarantine housing during their next general board meeting.
Junior Class Senator Talal Widatalla proposed that students who have lived in isolation housing could be present during the meeting to share their experiences.
Executive Secretary Breanna Soldatelli suggested that SGA should also discuss expanding available food options. Students who have been in isolation housing previously reported that, while they were able to order from the room service menu throughout their stay, there were limited vegan and vegetarian options.
Soldatelli also plans to address any differences in living situations between the four different buildings in which isolation and quarantine housing units are located.
“Housing is a good thing to bring up just to make sure that the levels of care are standardized across the board between whatever quarantine and isolation housing that we have,” she said.