The Central Student Government has long been struggling with their web and social media presence — outlets are often left without updates and lack an audience.
But beyond including up-to-date contact information for staff and a list of CSG initiatives, the site is inconsistent with the CSG Constitution, as it doesn’t show the current budget or reports from the University Board of Regents meetings and the University Council.
Business senior Michael Proppe, CSG President, said much of the problem stems from an unclear understanding of who is responsible for making sure the necessary items go onto the site. Dealing with the website is one of his top priorities for the late summer and fall.
“It’s a little unprofessional that the website isn’t up-to-date,” Proppe said. “Also it’s important from a transparency standpoint. Everything needs to get placed on the website so students and other University community members can see it and review it.”
Engineering senior Kyle Summers, CSG’s webmaster, is in charge of attending to the website.
Summers said while he was involved in CSG — he was representative for the College of Engineering and Chief of Staff — he took the role of webmaster, after re-doing the website.
He added features like UPetition, a feature where students can create a legitimate student petition through the website. However, last year, Summers was not involved in CSG as an elected member but continued on as the webmaster.
Summers said the responsibility then fell on the elected officials to submit documents to him to upload to the site, and that his primary role was not to attain current documents himself.
Proppe said not having an internal position with the clearly defined role of keeping the website current has hurt the site in the past.
Proppe said his goal for this year is to introduce a Communications Director position that would work to do that. The position would cover press releases, website updates and Facebook and Twitter.
While the website may have struggled in the past, CSG isn’t too far behind the rest of the Big Ten’s student governments. As of July 21, seven of the 12 Big Ten schools (not including University of Maryland and Rutgers University) had updated minutes or agendas of their legislative meetings and only five out of the 12 had a current budget. However, several schools who didn’t have the exact breakdown of the finances did have a page explaining the amount of funding that student organizations generally receive and procedures on how to receive it.
CSG does not have an updated budget but does display legislative minutes. But to see the breakdown of each vote and CSG initiative takes some digging, requiring a full read through of the minutes, making the site not as accessible or “student-friendly” as other schools’ pages.
The University of Nebraska student government page includes a project tracker which shows a visual poll of the progress of each student government goal. Northwestern University’s site features a “Campus Voice” page where students can vote and suggest various initiatives.
Proppe said there have been talks about instituting a similar student interaction component on CSG’s site.
The Rackham Graduate School Student Government site has two separate pages for the minutes and the status of initiatives. Rackham student Phillip Saccone, RSG President, said the site updates generally fall into the hands of the executives — the president, vice president and treasurer — but they are looking to revamp their site and implement a communications director position similar to Proppe’s idea.
Saccone said keeping a user-friendly site does require some extra work, but that it primarily takes a dedicated staff and organization, something Saccone is confident CSG can achieve.
“It’s about balancing,” he said. “So the execs, the committee chair and what not, obviously retain some control over it, but you also want to be able to give access to all of the members and even to the student body to some degree.”
Beyond the official site, Proppe said he has generally been pleased with CSG’s social networking presence, which included maintaining an updated Twitter account over the summer.
Proppe said he also hopes to start a series of blogs that would be updated weekly by the CSG executives to allow students a better look into the organization.
“A lot of people don’t know what are the day-to-day operations of central student government,” Proppe said. “ ‘Why is this position a 40 hour-a-week position?’ Not a lot of people really know that.”
Proppe has compiled a list of the issues with the CSG site that he hopes to get fixed and is in communication with Public Policy junior Bobby Dishell, CSG Vice President, to begin work on the site.