SGA mulls over mass alert system
A representative of Mobile Campus, a company that provides mass text-messaging capabilities to colleges and universities, said their services provide a fast and efficient means for communicating to the student body at large.
"It’s a means of notifying students at the earliest possible time," Mobile Campus representative Clayton Stewart said at the SGA’s final spring semester meeting on May 2.
Stewart said the services, which are free to students, could be used to receive coupons or special offers from local businesses, by groups to alert members to events or developments or for use by the University to alert the campus during emergencies.
Mobile Campus has seen a marked increase in interested schools following the Virginia Tech shootings, Stewart said, and in light of those events when a school signs on with the company the system can be functioning within 30 days. Students may sign up for the emergency messaging only, though currently normal text-messaging fees still apply, Stewart said.
"This allows the ability for you to stay in touch with what’s important to you," Stewart said.
Mobile Campus’ service is free to students because local companies pay to have coupons or offers of monetary value, no more than two per day, sent to students in the system.
Following the meeting SGA President David Rosen said the organization is looking carefully at the program.
"I don’t want to sign constituents up to get spam to their cell phone," Rosen said.
SGA Regent Judah Johns said the capabilities for the system to be used during emergencies were the most important.
"The alerts are something that became a priority after Virginia Tech," he said, adding that Mobile Campus shoulders the costs of implementing and maintaining the system. "The cost to the University is supposed to be zero."
The SGA also voted to approve Vice President Samuel Dike’s more than 100 student appointments to University committees, including the Student Fee Advisory Committee the Emergency Planning Committee, the Food Services Advisory Committee, Student Traffic Court and advisory and policy committees. Dike said the bodies must work to control higher education costs.
"People haven’t realized how much power these committees have," he said. "We have to focus on what we can do to make student life more affordable."
In other business, Graduate Senator Timothy O’Brien addressed criticism published in Songhai News, a recently founded, UH-based black collegiate paper, against the SGA and The Daily Cougar’s focus on fair-trade coffee.
In an editorial, Editor in Chief Kymberly Keeton said the two organizations need to "wake up."
O’Brien said the SGA Web site also needs to be updated to keep constituents informed on what the group is accomplishing.
"There’s a lot of things to be proud of," he said, citing the increase of bills authored and passed so far this session over the last administration’s entire time in office.
Rosen said part of the problem is that all of Campus Activities shares one webmaster, but they are looking into hiring a student to improve their online presence.
"We’ve been working very hard, and it’s important our external communication reflects that," he said, citing the SGA’s role in delaying a proposed late registration fee. "It’s important to look forward and see what we’re going to challenge next.
Dike expressed similar thoughts, saying SGA will continue to work to lower costs.
"It’s evidence of what students government can do when we fight for students," he said.
Elsewhere on the agenda, SGA voted unanimously for a bill in support of the creation of a Spirit and Traditions Council. Along with other student organizations, including Coog Crew, Bleacher Creatures and the Residence Halls Association, the Spirit and Traditions Council hopes to increase spirit activities and establish UH traditions.