Online hub planned for clubs and organizations

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A new online community specifically geared toward spreading the word about CSUN’s student clubs and organizations is expected to launch this semester following two previous attempts to create a central listing for student groups.

The new online community’s design is “similar to a MySpace kind of page,” according to Vicki Allen, assistant director for student involvement in the Matador Involvement Center.

The pages will be uniform in appearance, though they can be modified to suit the needs of a particular club or organization with the addition of photo albums, event information and opinion polls, as well as changes in color, font, text size and other appearance-related modifications, Allen said.

“Clubs call every day saying they want a website,” she said.

The online community’s goal is to produce a webpage that would help every new and continuing student at CSUN have access to information about more than 216 recognized clubs and organizations on campus, Allen said. A similar plan was proposed last year, but the online community never was fully established.

“Ultimately, we want to see all clubs and organizations on (the website),” said Sarah Jackson, clubs and organizations training and development coordinator at the MIC. “Right now, there aren’t that many people on it.”

Some student leaders are concerned about the lack of an updated, central location for a clubs and organizations listing on the web.

Mike Siciliano, senior journalism major and founder and instructor for the Kodokai Aikido student group, said he was concerned about the outdated sports clubs and organizations website, run through Associated Students Recreation Sports.

He said he has tried to get his group’s link on that main page for almost a year, but that no one has been able to provide him with an answer as to why this has not happened. Siciliano also said he had been told the website would get an overall redesign and update, something that has yet to happen. The webpage, for example, features groups like the Bowling Club, whose page describes the 1999-00 season and state conference winners from as far back as 1998.

Siciliano said the lack of a central site for sports clubs and organizations affected the way his group has been able to recruit new members.

“We post flyers and try to go through word of mouth, but most people rely on the Internet to find this stuff,” he said. “Without a central links page, it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack.”

At the Clubs and Organizations Recognition Conference, a mandatory gathering for student leaders who wish to charter their group for the academic year, on Oct. 1, a PowerPoint presentation was given to student leaders, as well as a step-by-step packet on how to set up and maintain webpages off of the main MIC site, in order to prevent confusion regarding the production of a webpage, according to Jackson.

“It’s not required to have a webpage, but it’s highly recommended,” Jackson said.

Siciliano said it was somewhat hypocritical for the MIC to ask student leaders to create a new, updated website of their own by the end of the month when the MIC’s own homepage features several pages, including the clubs and organizations link, that are “under construction.”

Many clubs and organizations on campus, however, already have their own websites on Yahoo and even on MySpace.com, and the CSUN online community would not replace those sites, Allen said. Rather, the CSUN-sponsored pages will serve as another source of information to students about these clubs and organizations in a single space.

“(The site) was easy to use, but I don’t think the online community is a good way to have them listed,” said Deborah Snyder, president of the Women in Business Association. Snyder, who attended a workshop and was trained on how to use the template, said the template was “not flexible enough” and the pages were not easy to direct people to.

The WBA is currently working on a website independent to the one provided by the MIC.

As of Aug. 30, approximately 50 clubs and organizations attended training workshops, though many have not yet created their page. Clubs and organizations that are taking advantage of the website, according to Allen, include the Alcohol Learning Education Research Training program, American Medical Student Association, Deaf Studies Association, International Business Association, and the Rejoice in Jesus Campus Fellowship.

The Alumni Association donated $9,000 for the initial launch of the website in Spring 2005, Allen said, though it is still unknown how much maintenance will cost for the website in the coming years.

The CSUN online community is not the first attempt to create a single source where students could view information about campus clubs and organizations.

In Spring 2005, at approximately the same time the first online community project was underway, there was talk of creating a Clubs and Organizations Yellow Pages.

Nick Ramirez, the former director of clubs and organizations for Associated Students, proposed the yellow pages plan, but the proposal did not receive the recognition it needed to excel, he said.

According to Allen, there was not a clear sense of the goal and service the yellow pages would present, so the project was not advanced.

The ultimate goal of the Clubs and Organization Yellow Pages was, according to Ramirez, “to advertise more involvement on campus and create a stronger CSUN community.” Unfortunately, Ramirez was unable to do so before the end of his term as director of clubs and organizations.

Editorial contributed to this report. Mary-Alexandra Andrusco can be reached at city@sundial.csun.edu.