By Kaley Toy
During the campaign, Lopez announced a priority if he got elected.
“One of the biggest focuses is going to be working with clubs and other organizations on campus,” he said, according to the student newspaper The Penn.
That sounds like more money for CrimsonConnect, a software system marketed as a means to facilitate connections among student groups and their campus constituents. In fall 2013, SGA paid $23,738 for CollegiateLink software, which members later renamed. The price covered a one-year license and installation.
But since then, SGA spent an additional $21,580 in calendar year 2014 for the program and for “support,” according to the IUP Center for Student Life. For calendar year 2015 SGA spent an additional $22,443.
Now, 342 student organizations are listed alphabetically on the CrimsonConnect site – from Acacia (“a social fraternity dedicated to human service”) to Zeta Tau Alpha (“to make a difference in the lives of our members”).
In theory, this software was an investment. In reality, it is a money pit. Funds from student activity fees have been sunk into the site by SGA under the assumption that students would frequent it. Evidence is lacking.
Kaitlyn E. Deptola, a sophomore early childhood education and special education major at IUP, said she didn’t know that CrimsonConnect existed.
“I’ve never heard of it,” wrote Deptola in an April 27 Facebook exchange.
Sarah A. DuFresne, a senior finance and accounting major, said the site was not very useful.
“I think it’s a great idea but very confusing to use, making it impossible to utilize all it has to offer,” said DuFresne in an April 27 Facebook message.
Why use CrimsonConnect when sites such as Facebook and Twitter are more widely used media for informing students about student organizations and activities on campus? These social mediums are free. Why are students paying for CrimsonConnect through student activity fees when few students seem to be visiting the site?
Before his election, Lopez said he had a plan for engaging student constituents.
“I want to be able to open up a town hall immediately to bring students in and hear their issues and what they want to see changed,” he said.
Students should want to see CrimsonConnect changed. At the very least, they should hear Lopez’s justification for continued spending of student fees on a software program of dubious value. And he should be prepared to disconnect CrimsonConnect altogether and save students’ money for something more useful.
Kaley Toy, a senior journalism major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is from Erie, Pa.