Messaging tops SA’s goals

Student Association President John Richardson and Executive Vice President Ted Costigan are revamping the organization’s communication strategy by launching an Office of Student Outreach aimed at facilitating conversations with students.

Under the newly formed office, Richardson and Costigan will lead a 30-student team of communication ambassadors, who will project the SA’s message through their own Facebook and Twitter accounts. The full team will be finalized by mid-September, according to Richardson.

Ambassadors will be hand-picked based on their involvement in different areas of University life, including diverse academic and extracurricular experiences. Richardson and Costigan will meet with the group monthly to discuss how to push the overall SA agenda forward.

Richardson said this group will differ from the Senate, because the ambassadors, who are generally more involved in student life, will report directly to the SA executives and will not have voting privileges. A key difference, Richardson said, is their responsibility to the SA.

“[Senators] are not beholden to me. They don’t even have to show up to a certain extent,” Richardson said. “The ambassadors sign up knowing they have to attend meetings and run SA updates from their social media accounts.”

The incentive for students to become ambassadors, Richardson said, is their ability to communicate outside of the Senate’s town hall format and campaign on specific issues.

The top student executive’s communication strategy will also include a new SA website to be launched during the first week of school, marking the third time in as many years the SA has overhauled its website to improve communication.

The new site will include UserVoice, an online forum for SA executives to ask questions of the University community and hear feedback on campus concerns.

“This will help us identify the bigger issues so we don’t spend too much time on an issue that only one student cares about,” Richardson said.

Another digital tool the SA team hopes to bring on campus is Involvio, a new website on which student groups can create profiles, post updates and announce events for free. Richardson sees Involvio as a chance to create a comprehensive campus calendar of events – also a goal of the University’s administration – if he can get enough organizations interested in the site.

Richardson also set aside six dates throughout the fall and spring for University-wide tailgates at sporting events on campus, putting different student organizations in charge of each tailgate to add their own touches to the events.

Richardson and Costigan both realize that their most important responsibilities are as student activists, and each has spent hours this summer meeting with University administrators.

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