By Barton Perkins
For the last two years the University has been encouraging students and student run organizations to begin using a program called OrgSync. OrgSync is self-describe as being “a Campus Engagement Network that connects your students to organizations, programs, and departments on campus in a private online community.” Essentially meaning that the program’s purpose is to provide a venue for students to learn about organizations on campus and upcoming events. This is great within theory as it would easily allow student organizations to alert their members to upcoming events. However, the question does emerge of why would student organizations would not use other more well-known social media outlets to accomplish this such as Facebook, GROUPME, or Twitter. OrgSync quickly becomes obsolete if not an overly redundant program in the face of so many other similar and better-known options. The University appears to be aware of this, and so they, in the minds of many students, have begun to shove it down people’s throats.
Sewanee has taken several steps to attempt to force its students to more readily use OrgSync. This manifests in primarily three manners that will be explored in full. First, all student organizations are required to possess an OrgSync. Second, proctors are strongly encouraged to use OrgSync as a primary method to communicate information to their charges. Finally, Greek Organizations are now required to register parties on OrgSync.
All student run organizations are required to have an OrgSync and register all information pertaining to their organization on it. Furthermore, they are strongly encouraged to use OrgSync to register all of their events. Failure to comply with this results in an organization losing their funding. In a sense, much of this does make sense as it allows the university to monitor student organizations, have an idea of what they do, and keep track of who they still need to give funding to. In the opinions of some students OrgSync can be beneficial to the university in that regard. However, many students agree that OrgSync should primarily be used for this purpose and nothing else.
A new aspect of Proctor training is that they receive training in how to use OrgSync. Additionally, they are strongly encouraged to use OrgSync as a primary method to announce the dates of dorm meetings or various other events. As many students do not bother having an OrgSync this has unsurprisingly been a bit of a problem. To some dorm residents it would have made more sense if proctors had just been given a list of emails to use.
Finally, a new development in OrgSync is that Greek organizations are now required to register parties at least two weeks in advance on Orgsync. Registering parties has already been a hot button issue for many members of Greek organizations for the last year or so. Many members of fraternities and sororities feel that it is an aggressive attempt by the administration as a whole to discourage and control Greek Life. An anonymous source commented, “We all feel like the administration has always hated us, but Dean Hagi was there to keep them from going overboard and shutting us all down. But he’s gone now, and a lot of people are afraid that the tiniest slip up will result in us being forced to go dark or be kicked off campus. That might sound crazy, but they (the Administration) don’t like or trust us, and so we don’t like or trust them” Recent requirements to register parties on OrgSync, and the lack of forewarning about this policy change has sent several Greek organizations into uproars. The current justification for this new policy is that the police force needs ample time to organize which officers are available to oversee parties. What further complicates this is that the officers that oversee Greek events are always part-time employees of the Sewanee Police Force, and as a result the University pays them overtime to essentially babysit legal adults. To some this could be viewed as a misuse of resources.
What is also truly interesting is that Sewanee appears not be the only college where OrgSync is not popular or used by the student body. Student publications in Texas News Service and the Hatchet, from Tarleton State University and George Washington University respectively, have published articles in the last year citing their student population’s disdain for the programs. Both publications note that students in their respective Universities have found the program underutilized, and both attribute this to most students preferring to use social media outlets that they are more familiar with, such as Facebook.
By contrast the majority of the customer reviews found on websites such as FeaturedCustomers.com have given high praise to OrgSync. Many cite it as being an excellent organizational tool, and allow them to easily keep track of fundraising and other necessary mechanics. It is worth noting that the grand majority of these reviews appear to be coming from faculty and administrative members of colleges that use OrgSync, including the colleges whose publications have been mentioned above. So there appears to be a level of disconnect between how faculty members perceive OrgSync versus how their students view it.
OrgSync is fantastic within theory, that it can be a program that would be able to promote events across campus and encourage students to join new organizations. However, it’s execution by the University has rendered the program widely despised. Despite this it appears that the hated social media outlet will not be leaving anytime soon. One can only hope that either the stringency that Sewanee attaches to OrgSync decreases, or that the University makes changes in how they use it.