Student leaders anxiously await launch of MIC’s online community websites

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The Matador Involvement Center is in the process of authenticating representatives from various clubs and organizations around campus to get more students involved in a planned CSUN online community.

“(The) system is working, but hopefully as the semester winds down, more people (will) have time to work on (their) site,” said Vicki Allen, assistant director for student involvement at the MIC.

Allen said the CSUN online community would bring more knowledge and awareness to the clubs and organizations on campus. She said various workshops were held in preparation for the launch and information was provided to clubs, along with a form that is used for the authentication process.

“We are at an infancy stage,” Allen said. “Last fall (the program) was built in, and administration on campus authorized or approved the privacy (portion) of it (in the spring) … We are at the back end (of the project).”

The Internet Association Corporation is a networking software development company that provides groups and organizations with online tools that help them to communicate, acquire more information about and engage their members.

IAC handles the programming for the online community, which was first introduced to many student leaders in Fall 2004 at the MIC’s student clubs and organizations recognition conference, which runs groups through official recognition procedures.

Allen said the authenticating process would require a club or organization to have a representative who would update information about the group on their site.

“It protects the organization,” she said. “They will have a specific web person.”

Allen said that since the MIC is still in the process of authenticating the authorized representatives of each group, the CSUN online community has no direct link through CSUN’s main homepage. She said there is no point in providing a link without any information.

The early stages of the online community are already frustrating some members of student groups at CSUN.

Esvanhnelly Salas, president of the Anthropology Student Association, is incorrectly listed on the CSUN online community as a vice president. She said she tried updating the club’s information this year, but she said she got frustrated with the process.

“We are not currently using (the online community) because it wasn’t working correctly,” Salas said. “I tried to update our information, but it was asking for the password and user name like about three times. They (the MIC) told us they are still working on the problems with the site. It would be great for our club when it works because it is good advertising.”

Salas said she attended an MIC workshop last year that explained how organizations would be able to use the site.

“If the online community works, it’s better than MySpace because it is more user friendly,” Salas said. “It’s easy to update the members with everything and even attach files, compared to MySpace, which is limited to what you can do and you have to know (HyperText Markup Language to add) attachments.”

Regardless of some current frustrations with the online community, Salas said she is hoping that the MIC will be able to work out the problems with the site.

She said that at the moment ASA does not have a website, but she is looking at other outlets to promote their organization.

Ricardo Valdez, member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, said they have been using their own website that they acquired through an academic department. He said the website is connected with CSUN, but he sees the advantages that the MIC-run online community could bring to their organization.

“We haven’t used the website (the CSUN online community). We went through the workshop provided by MIC, but they told us that they are still working on the bugs with the site,” Valdez said. “It would be good if a lot of students would use it like MySpace and its hype.”

Valdez said people’s knowledge of the SHPE organization is mostly through word of mouth, and that their current website is visited mostly by non-CSUN students who meet club members at events and competitions.

Unlike Valdez and Salas, Jennifer Nnoli, member of Rejoyce in Jesus Campus Fellowship, said that since her group is a bible study group and not a club, she does not see the need for the CSUN online community or a self-run website.

“No, we don’t use the site,” she said. “I don’t really know how it is doing. I was able to attend the workshops presented by MIC, but I have not updated anything. I heard it’s not 100 percent working at this time.”

Some clubs, such as the CSUN Student Finance Association, have found other ways to promote their organizations. Harout Sahakian, finance major and president of CSUN SFA, said their organization has always had their own website.

Sahakian said that another issue with the online community is that there are no ways to get to it through the main CSUN website.

“It would be beneficial for a lot of organizations as it becomes more popular and as more students become more aware of it,” Sahakian said. “It’s a good idea especially for students to have access to all organizations. Other organizations have attended the workshops, but they don’t do anything. They are not being utilized.”

Joanne Angeles can be reached at city@sundial.csun.edu.