The Student Assembly has not had a consistently working website for several years, despite campaign promises by several presidential hopefuls every year. Current SA President Yohance Whitaker ’16 and his team are working to change that pattern this fall.
The lack of a functioning website is not a new problem for the SA. For several years, creating a website has been a continuous endeavor. Previous SA presidents have promised to create a working site without delivering results. According to Whitaker, the problem in the past was that teams tried to make elaborate, showy sites; however, they could never get the job done.
“Each year a new team promises a whiz-bang website with more bells and whistles than the last website,” Whitaker said in an email. “Quite simply, that is not an effective use of time.”
The SA is constantly working on many projects at once; therefore, efficiency is key. Whitaker’s new approach is to create a comprehensive, stable page on the College of William and Mary website that does not have to be reconstructed each year. This will allow the SA to maintain the site despite changes in leadership over the years.
“The Student Assembly has not yet succeeded in transitioning websites from one team to another team,” Whitaker said. “Therefore, my team and I are working to create a permanent page on the W&M website. With a page on the W&M website, our website will not be susceptible to the same issues of transition and turnover.”
The SA hopes to have the project completed and the page up by late October or early November. According to SA Vice President Catie Pinkerton ’16, the webpage will contain a variety of details pertaining to the SA.
“On the webpage there will be information about the student assembly like meeting times and contact information for representatives,” Pinkerton said in an email. “Other resources will be available as well, like useful links for students in crisis.”
Newly elected President of the Class of 2019 Jonah Yesowitz ’19 said he agrees that it is important to have a working webpage to convey information to the student body.
“While I have high hopes, I think what’s more important is that it will serve as yet another outlet for students to access news and pertinent information related to the Student Assembly,” Yesowitz said in an email. “Having that available can do nothing but promote involvement and further our goals.”
Having noticed the void created by the lack of an SA site, Yesowitz said he is hoping to discuss this issue at the upcoming SA meeting.
Furthermore, Whitaker said he sees this project as a way of ensuring transparency in his organization.
“Transparency is one of the cornerstone values of the Student Assembly,” Whitaker said. “It remains vitally important to me that our work through the Student Assembly and on behalf of the student body is open to input, clearly communicated, and made publicly available.”
The SA is working with the Information Technology department on this ongoing project. Student organizations can develop webpages through the IT department with the Tribe Voices software. This software is free and easily accessible for students to use, whether for student organizations or personal use. Associate Director of Student Leadership Development Trici Fredrick, who serves as SA’s advisor, said she recognizes the importance of their creating an inclusive webpage.
“As SA’s advisor, I have been working with them to navigate the feasibility of creating an official SA website that is tied to the W&M site much like Fraternity and Sorority Life page,” Fredrick said in an email. “Given their unique position as the governing body of the student population at W&M we feel this could be a more appropriate web space for them to remain accessible to the student body as well as share initiatives and announcements in an timely manner.”
Both Fredrick and Whitaker said they are hopeful the page will be up before the end of the semester.