By Joe Wlos
Continuing its work to improve transparency, Grinnell’s Student Government Association (SGA) will soon be introducing a new website with an updated layout and improved features. Administrative Coordinator Ron Chiu ’13 hopes that the online presence will help students learn about committees, events and their elected representatives.
“The whole appeal will be for someone who doesn’t know much about SGA, but wants to learn more about it,” Chiu said.
Chiu worked with Doug Dobrzynski ’13 to create the new site. Dobrzynski began meeting with former SGA President Gabe Schechter ’12 last year, and he continued the project with this year’s Cabinet.
“I started talking to Doug about the website over the summer, and he actually gave us the preliminary layouts shortly before the year started,” Chiu explained.
Although it has taken months to finish the process, SGA is pleased with the final product, which is much more advanced than the organization’s previous website.
“The old website was not visually appealing. Nobody thought of it as a place for people who wanted to get involved in SGA right away,” Chiu said. “It was very text-heavy and kind of bland. A lot of people didn’t see functionality.”
Most importantly, the new website help students understand and attend committee meetings, one of the most important but often overlooked aspects of student government.
“Recently, there’s been a lot of feedback about committees, with people saying, ‘I don’t know when committee times are. I don’t even understand what this committee does,’” Chiu said. “Hopefully, this will work in parallel with the development of the [SGA] handbook” to help students understand and contribute to the system.
The website will still be a great resource for students who are less interested in participating in student government—it will feature student events occurring across campus.
“I think the new website is a lot more accessible on the public events side,” Chiu said. “We will have newsfeeds, which will incorporate events from ACE, Films and Concerts. It will have a calendar and a dynamic banner.”
“Multilateral action” will be required to update the website. Cabinet members will be posting regularly to give students the latest information on their work and the issues facing the College.
Soon, that information may even be available on student smartphones. Chiu has begun talking to members of Grinnell’s TC Application Development Team to begin laying the foundation for a mobile app, which could give students reminders about events and committee times.