SAO Spends $40k on New Website
The Student Activities Office adopted OrgSync, a new web system chosen to replace Community.
Published: Thursday, September 15, 2011
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11
Using funds raised through the Student Activities Fee, the Student Activities Office spent $40,000 on a three-year contract with OrgSync, a website designed to manage student organizations.
Director of Student Activities and Greek Life Christina Mastrangelo said she recommended the system because it offers a more easily navigable alternative to Community, the website previously used at Kenyon.
"When I got to Kenyon [in July 2010], I was honestly disappointed with the Community system, and its palette was not user-friendly, and so that's what prompted me to start looking at … other options similar to Community," Mastrangelo said. She heard positive feedback about OrgSync from Denison University and Ohio Wesleyan University at a Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) conference.
Some students at John Carroll University, however, are not fans of OrgSync. In an editorial, the staff of The Carroll News called it "excessive when taking into account the fact that current sites such as Facebook and Twitter already exist as networking tools for many organizations."
In addition, the Associated Engineering Student Body (AESB) at California State University Long Beach unanimously voted to oppose a resolution to install OrgSync because of its cost, according to The Daily 49er.
For Kenyon, the yearly cost of OrgSync is $12,000, which is a $3,000 increase from the $9,000 yearly fee for Community, according to Mastrangelo. The $40,000 fee the College has already paid includes three years of service, start-up fees, security software and training, which will occur this Saturday, Sept.17.
"I would say [this situation] is rough," Business and Finance Committee (BFC) Co-Chair Tyler Furste '12 said. "Spending the $40,000 on this software is something that came at a time unfortunately when the amount of funds that people are requesting has just shot through the roof."
Like funds for student organizations, the money to purchase OrgSync services came from the Student Activities Fee, which is allocated by the BFC. Each Kenyon student, except those studying abroad, pays $270 per year toward this fee. Last year, both the BFC and Student Council approved the proposal to enter into a contract with OrgSync. "Part of the Student Council is obviously being in the best interest of the organizations," Mastrangelo said.
The Student Activities Fee also covers the Mount Vernon Shuttle, the College's New York Times subscription, funds for class councils and all funds allocated to student organizations. "A lot of times when there is a major software program we do fund that through our IT [information technology] funds," President S. Georgia Nugent said.
Mastrangelo, however, said, "[OrgSync] is funded by Student Council and the Student Activities Fee since it is so directly related to the student organizations they approve and their management."
Neither Mastrangelo nor Student Council polled the student body to learn of student opinions on switching to OrgSync and spending an additional $3,000 of student activities funds each year, however.
Furste was studying abroad last year when the BFC agreed to fund OrgSync, and thus did not play a role in the approval, but he said he defended the decision. "It's expensive – surprisingly expensive – but I think it's worth it," he said. "Anyone who's used Community, the old system, knows that it was bad and we needed to get something new."
Mastrangelo said she received feedback from students before signing a contract with OrgSync. "I had anecdotal conversations with the students I knew used Community, and the overwhelming response was that they hated it."
OrgSync's implementation has come at the same time as a proposed increase of $30 per year in the Student Activities Fee, bringing the fee to $300 per student. On Tuesday, Sept. 13, Student Council sent an email to the student body asking students to vote on this issue. The email stated that an increase in the fee was necessary because student organizations are not receiving the funds they request. Last semester, the BFC allocated only 37 percent of funds that student organizations requested, according to the email. The cost of OrgSync is now decreasing the availability of these funds, which, according to Student Council were already insufficient.