University of Iowa claims on its website to have around 500 student organizations and clubs students can join. Yet, there seems to be a problem that the university does not seem acutely aware of:the website for those clubs is horrendous and almost impossible to navigate.
The university does not handle the website itself, instead outsourcing it to Campus Labs, a third-party organization
“We are a third-party technical support for your campus, and as such, we do not manage any on-campus processes such as organizations or their statuses,” Chance McDowell, customer service representative for Campus Labs, wrote in an email to the Daily Iowan.
As COVID-19 spread on campus, many clubs went virtual due to the risks that came with meeting in person. During this period, many of clubs seemed to have dissolved or are no longer active.
This makes student involvement much more difficult than it should be, and that can be discouraging for those hoping to get involved. As noted in an article by Association for Supervision and Curriculum, studies show a link between academic performance and extracurricular activities. Students who participated in extracurriculars tended to have a better GPA than those who did not, studied found.
The university should make it as easy as possible for students to find organizations and clubs. As it currently stands, students have three ways of learning about a club.
One way is via getting an email through Outlook. This is an unreliable method considering the amount emails students get on a weekly basis. The second method is through the student involvement fair the university holds every fall. If the student misses the fair, they are going to have very few alternatives.
The other option students have to find out more about a specific club is to reach out directly to club organizers.
The university should know better than to leave it to college students to deactivate the organizations on the website if they become inactive. There is no real consequence if they forget to mark their club as inactive upon their graduation. If the UI wants to increase student engagement in these activities, which it most certainly does, this cannot stay the case.
The university needs to handle websites like this manually. Take down the Engage site as it currently is and overhaul it. Reach out to clubs to see which organizations and clubs are active, ask those involved to make sure the club information is up to date, and penalize those who do not take their responsibility seriously.
The halt caused by COVID 19 in terms of student activities has presented the UI with a chance to overhaul how it handles student engagement. An engaged student body tends to perform better and socialize more. Just because the current way it is done might be cheaper does not mean it is the best way to go about it.
Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.