November 14, 2011
Over the past few weeks, chalk messages have peppered the paths around campus with information about “CollegeCambio.” The new website, which is being compared to the original Facebook by the founding freshmen, offers students at the College of William and Mary a way to post messages, discuss classes and coordinate rides. But before of these freshmen proclaim themselves the next Mark Zuckerberg, they need to get a few facts straight.
From 1998 to 2010, the Student Information Network served the exact same purpose as the new CollegeCambio. While, like CollegeCambio, the Student Information Network was a good idea, it disappeared after 12 years due to a lack of interest.
As of now, a couple hundred students have joined the site, which you can join only with your student email address issued by the College. Thus, no professors or administrators can access the site. The content isn’t the issue — although a discussion on “your favorite roller coaster” seems a little adolescent and freshman-like — but the fact a website to providing these services has already come and gone.
The students managed to start the site, which already has 112 likes on Facebook and created a huge stir on campus, with just $700. While all of this is admirable, this just seems to be a case of history repeating itself. We aren’t trying to be overly pessimistic or say that this website will fail — it very well might flourish, and that would be an awesome success for the students who founded it, but it isn’t the innovative idea some are making it out to be. What would be innovative would be a website that avoids the pitfalls of the Student Information System.
Last spring, then aspiring Student Assembly President Kaveh Sadeghian ’12, ran on a platform that included the creation of a Banner-like system called HARK. Sadeghian suggested that this website would revolutionize campus communication. A student could access the system to look at syllabi, ride boards and reviews on various topics. Sadeghian claimed the system would be up by the spring, so where is it? There haven’t even been any promotional ads if it’s was going online soon. Instead, a couple of freshmen have beaten Sadeghian to the punch. We understand it takes time to make a good website that is of high quality, but HARK seems to have fallen by the wayside.
We fully support the idea of CollegeCambio; however, we are concerned that if the freshmen who started this site do not pay attention to the Student Information Network, CollegeCambio will also fade away due to lack of interest from the student body. We’d like to see CollegeCambio succeed because it does have potential. If CollegeCambio’s creators put enough effort into the site so that it is well-designed and useful, it could become an integral part of campus. In the meantime, our eyes are still peeled for the new website HARK. Who knows, maybe HARK will fill the need for a campus-wide discussion board. Eventually.