Student project leaders provide updates on progress
At the beginning of the academic year, College Government (CG) hosted IdeaFest, an event for members of the Wellesley community to get together and brainstorm ideas about how to improve the campus. Participants chose specific categories of campus life on which to focus. Categories included academics, arts, career development, community service, equity, sustainability, transportation and wellness, among others. Around 250 students attended the event. Each group was required to come up with a pitch for their project and propose a budget. The total allocated budget for all of the projects was $750. After coming up with proposals for their respective groups, students presented their ideas to the IdeaFest attendees and everyone voted on the projects, until the $750 ran out. Each of the projects are headed by members of College Government President’s Council (CGPC), which is a student group that aims to help the College Government President run projects that enrich campus life.
College Government president Hana Glasser ’15 noted that IdeaFest was meant to really engage students, as Glasser lamented that student governments are often reduced to making requests of administration or being points of information exchange.
“That is an important thing that we do and that is something that we do, but thinking about College Government as exclusively an advocacy office ignores what students can do for other students,” Glasser said. “We have been trying to think about ways for College Government to be more responsive and for more people who aren’t senators or on cabinet to have input into what happens.”
IdeaFest was the first event of its kind.
“It was just a really big experiment, we have never done something like this before, we didn’t know how many people to expect, we didn’t know if people would have ideas, we didn’t know if people would vote, if people would care, if people would only work on them after, there were all these ‘maybes,’ but we did actually get a really awesome response,” Glasser said.
One of the projects approved during IdeaFest is named “#TweeterPan,” headed by Glasser. The original idea was to create a #TweeterPan hashtag on Twitter that would allow people to send out tweets about where the Peter Pan bus is located. However, after a social media poll conducted last year, Glasser found that more students were on Facebook than on Twitter, and therefore pushed to move the idea of #TweeterPan to Facebook. Senator Jessica Shin ’18 had originally created a Wellesley Transportation Updates Facebook group, where students post updates regarding transportation and other information about the Peter Pan bus. The original idea of transportation updates on Twitter was therefore dropped, and they are instead looking to push the Transportation Updates Facebook page.
“I have transitioned in my thinking that this update page [on Facebook] is clearly something that people find useful, something people are doing,” Glasser said. “So now, the #TweeterPan idea is transitioning to be this Facebook group, and we are thinking about how we can use resources to promote that and make sure people post.”
There is already an app that tracks the Peter Pan bus that was created and is operated by a Wellesley student Diana Gerr ’15. However, the GPS tracking information that comes through is controlled by the Peter Pan transportation company. Additionally, Glasser highlights that the app may leave out certain aspects regarding the overall transportation experience. For example, Glasser points out that the Transportation Updates Facebook page can allow students to share information about whether there is room on the bus, how cold it is outside, how late the bus is and how long people have been waiting for it.
“[That app] can’t provide the information that a connected network of students can provide each other,” Glasser said.
In terms of making “#TweeterPan” happen and having the Facebook group as an effective method of communication, Glasser and her team are thinking of doing “ride-alongs,” where they make sure everyone on the bus is aware of the Facebook group, that they are a part of it and are posting to it.
“It’s a community project. It’s also very much a word of mouth project,” Glasser said. “It was never a resource intensive thing, it’s more about making that shift in behavior happen and now that we have seen that shift in behavior with this Facebook group, we are not trying to overrun this shift in behavior, we are trying to see if we can assist that.”
The second project is called “Check-Out Fun,” and is headed by Mayanka Kumar ’16, a member of CGPC. This project centers around CG providing several kits around each dorm neighborhood that consists of activities for students to do. Each kit would include items such as pots and pans for cooking and baking, board games and jump ropes.
“Students aren’t necessarily from home going to bring pots and pans because either they are not possible to take here or the students are just like thinking about storage here or it does not even cross their mind,” Kumar said.
CG hopes that this “Check-Out Fun” project will promote a stronger sense of community.
“It’s all about this idea of spontaneous fun because I feel like Wellesley gets really stressful and if students want to let go of that stress and just don’t have the resources, that’s not fair,” Kumar said.
These stations would be placed in each residence hall neighborhood, such as the quad area or Tower complex. Currently, the “Check-Out Fun” group is in the process of figuring out where to store items in the residence halls which are both accessible and appropriate.
The third project, headed by Leah Schwartz ’18 and Anne-Sophie Tome ’17, is based on the hoop-rolling race held annually at the end of the year for seniors. Their idea is to provide a system for students to borrow hoops as opposed to buying them. Each year Café Hoop sells hoops for $10.
“It’s a project meant to promote equity within the tradition of rolling hoops at the end of year,” Schwartz said. “For some people, $10 is necessary, like people who are paying tuition, people who are trying to make it through on their paychecks.”
The system would mirror the caps and gowns program that Student Aid Society runs every year, where students can borrow the items and return them for other students to use the following year.
“It’s really solidifying that traditions here are a thing that everyone can partake in and something that’s all of the community and all of the campus coming together and people don’t have to worry about participating in Wellesley traditions that mean so much to people,” Tome said.
Currently, the Hoops group is in the process of retrieving the funds from SOFC that were previously allocated at the IdeaFest.
The fourth project consists of a series of travelling arts projects headed by Soracha Prathanrasnikorn ’15. This project is centered around organizing surprise student-led workshops at a specific location each month. Possible projects include dances, creative writing and painting.
“One of the student groups came up with the idea of carrying out ‘Guerrilla Arts Workshops’ around campus monthly. Their main goal was to make arts more fun and to enhance appreciation of various forms of arts on campus,” Prathanrasnikorn said. “Some time before the actual event, we will be putting up paper murals around campus to let people draw, write or express their creativity on a topic.”
The fifth and final project is the “Event Guidebook” iPhone app, headed by Lydia Han ’18 and Grace Park ’16. This is not to be confused with the Guidebook company that provides the software to create these apps. There have been multiple events that have already used the Guidebook software. Most recently, the CWS utilized theis app for its Career Fair. The app provided a list and descriptions of all of the companies at the fair along with a customizable map that showed you where each company was located in the room. Additionally, this app was used during this year’s first-year orientation. The app listed all the events happened each day during orientation week, with the option of creating your own customizable calendar, in which you could add events that you were intending to attend.
The Event Guidebook group is making an app to organize small and large events on campus. Just like the apps for Career Fair and Freshman Orientation, the app will provide information about all the events and a customizable calendar, in an effort to help students keep track of and learn about events happening on campus.
“At times, events are not on such a large scale to merit a Facebook event, so there is a divide between events which are primarily advertised through email and events which are advertised through email and Facebook. Understandably, every Wellesley student has a million things to keep track of throughout the day, so providing a place where all of these events are kept together will be a huge help in the typical student’s life in the long run,” Han said. “We also hope that this will increase the attendance of events in general and encourage people to even further take advantage of the events going on around campus.”
Currently the students working on the Event Guidebook app are working to gauge the student need and desire for such an app. They are also negotiating with the Guidebook company. The Guidebook software was originally purchased by Wellesley College for single events, as opposed to an extended and indefinite amount of time. The group is hoping that the Event Guidebook app will be utilized all year and into the future.
Additionally, the group is working on deciding how to manage the app throughout the year. They are looking to create a paid position, where the individual would have the task of mandating deadlines for submitting information about upcoming events, as well as taking care of technological glitches.
All of the five projects that stemmed from the IdeaFest are underway and the groups are hoping to complete their projects by the end of the year.
Photo Courtesy of Wellesley College Government
Cynthia Chen ’18 is a staff writer for the News and Arts section who wants to be a journalist IRL, and is pursuing a major in Political Science.