Brett Schneider

We, the engaged learners of Miami University, are constantly asked for pieces of our time. If you eat anywhere on campus, you will discover no fewer than six table tents inviting you to at least 10 impending events. Then, as you check your schedule to see which events you might be able to attend, your Miami Memos proposes more things to do. Each academic building is also decorated with a plaid pattern of upcoming programs. Sometimes even the corner of a chalkboard will invite you to an event. Your email will also inevitably be flooded with invites to campus events, as well as notifications that your inbox is also full of new requests. Athletics occasionally sets signs outside of Shriver and Bell Tower, as do the various performing arts entities. The Brick Street marquee also has a slate of events for your remaining free time. If you are in Greek life, you have additional requirements of where to be and when. If you live on campus, your RA and your community council would also like you to spend some time with them. And finally, you have to make time to go to class and study.

There is a lot going on. Not only is there an overwhelming volume of events, but also we are literally bombarded by the advertising for them (sometimes by eccentric candy peddlers at the hub or Shriver). We have a definite need to consolidate. The current system is inefficient and unproductive, and as President Hodge said, “We must relentlessly focus on improving efficiency and productivity.” A quick example of inefficiency: as President Hodge spoke Tuesday at Hall Auditorium, there was a language fair going on concurrently in MacMillan Hall. The language fair, by the way, was not listed on the Oxford event calendar, notorious perhaps for its frequent omissions. There is a separate calendar for athletics. I personally belong to 33 Blackboard organization sites stemming from my two majors alone. Associated Student Government has discussed creating another calendar to display the 350+ student organizations’ events. There is no calendar displaying the events taking place within halls put on by RAs or community councils.

Creating a comprehensive event Web site should be a high priority of the university. ASG is on the right track in wanting a full Web site for student organizations, but we need more. Specifically, we need a single Web site with events contributed from Greek life, other student organizations, athletics, intramurals, service opportunities, academic departments, the performing arts, RAs and even the uptown bars. Every event could be tagged by organization/department and event type (such as social, cultural, philanthropy or lecture). The Web site should allow students to enter their unique ID and then edit their calendar to display only those organizations and event types that interest them. And this should be put on the front of myMiami for convenience. It would be efficient because students could quickly reference the Web site to check all imminent co-curricular activities, and use filters so that only those they are most likely to be interested in will be displayed. It would improve productivity because it would offer free, targeted advertising with guaranteed traffic.

But certainly there are problems with my proposal or else someone would have thought of and done this already. First, getting the necessary software and support technology up and running costs money; I recommend using the Miami University Student Technology Fee. Next, someone has to run the Web site (specifically to approve every added event after verifying it is legitimate); ASG and RHA both have technology directors, MU B1TS could prove capable, or a professional employee could be given the collateral assignment. The final issue is conditioning the university, including students, organizations and departments, to use the web site. I have faith if the submission tickets were quick and easy, organizations that wish to advertise would spend three minutes posting the event. As for students, it will take the Web site being convenient for it to catch on, as well as for organizations to push members to check their calendars.

The barrage of advertising for events is irritating and causes throbbing headaches. The nebulous cloud of dates and places and times and names does not need to hang over us as in a Zoloft commercial. A proper calendar Web site will make it easy to view information quickly, to view only that information in which a particular student is interested, and to literally see everything laid out, with all the overlaps evident before you commit to two simultaneous events (organizations could even consult the calendar to pick the most opportune time to set an event). Maybe it will even cut down on all the table tents.

Brett Schneider