Smith Social Network Contract Renewed Amidst Mixed Reviews

Photo by Carolyn Brown '16 | The Smith Senate voted to continue funding the Smith Social Network, which costs $11,000 per year.  

Hannah Elbaum '19 Assistant Copy Editor

The Smith Senate debated last week whether to continue funding the Smith Social Network and ultimately voted to continue funding for the next academic year. The Student Government Association has been paying approximately $11,000 per year fee for unlimited use of the online platform.

The Smith Social Network, which was purchased through CollegiateLink in Dec. 2012 and has been active since March 2013, is an online platform for campus organizations that allows them to save photos and documents, track membership and share events with the student body. Features have been added over the past three years, including election capabilities, budgeting tools and a curriculum component.

“Our goal was to get the entire system up and running in three years, which we have done. We anticipate that full integration with students would take five to six years,” said Tamra Bates, director of the Office of Student Engagement.

The initial process of building the online platform took four months and was overseen by the Office of Student Engagement to reflect the needs of the Smith community. The office also continues to work with Smith organizations and departments to update the program as needed.

Senate debated the effectiveness of the Social Network at the first session of the spring semester to decide whether or not to continue funding the site.

In addition to student-run organizations, faculty and staff at Smith have been using the Social Network for their own departments. Residence Life recently used the Social Network for their ResLife 2016-2017 application cycle.

Hannah Durrant, director of residence life, believes using the Social Network has made the application process easier to understand and complete. In addition to honoring Smith’s commitment to environmentally-friendly practice, the online application is a similar format to many potential job applications that Smith students may complete in their futures.

“We wanted to support a program already in use at the college,” said Durrant. “Overall we have been happy with the program … We are hoping to make improvements in the future working in collaboration with [the Office of Student Engagement].”

The International Students Organization Secretary Helena Thompson ’18 said that the group appreciates the Social Network’s capabilities for elections and raising awareness of their events.

“It’s the easiest way to give everyone information without sending out lots of emails,” Thompson said.

However, not everyone shares her view. Maureen Leonard ’17 said, “[The Social Network] is not effective because it’s not used. There is no one to explain how to use it. It’s not user-friendly.”

Students near her at the time voiced their agreement that the Social Network is not an active part of their involvement in co-curricular activities at Smith.

“While there are students who will tell you they don’t use it, there are 3,042 involved users with the system, 235 active organizations and students are now aware of events happening all over campus,” Bates said.

Although students continue to debate the efficiency and necessity of the social network, the vote remains in favor of continuing to fund the project.