The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

Interweb Intel

The Rise and Fall of the Student Government Website
Photo credit: The Parker Weekly

Approximately a year ago, I took the stage to introduce the Student Government Website, a project that, in accordance with CTC’s regulations, should have been in existence long before. Little did I realize that there was a reason behind its absence: a resistance to change. 

Student Government mirrors real-world governments in its reluctance to embrace change. The system is designed to make change a challenging endeavor, a deliberate strategy to safeguard against tampering. My initial intention wasn’t a radical transformation but rather a simple one. However, Roster Checker, a Day of CTC Event, gained over 30 more users in a week than the Student Government Website did all year.

With the lack of widespread adoption not only by the student body but also by the Cabinet, the Student Government website served no purpose but as a bookmark for the Constitution. So one year after I stood on that stage, it has now been offline for a month and no one noticed. Here’s why.

But I suppose first I should explain what the Student Government Website was. It was designed to centralize Student Government announcements and communication into one easy-to-access place. From Senate topics, to upcoming proposals, to committee events, it could handle it all. 

There were pages for Committees, Affinity Groups, and Clubs. Those groups would be able to post announcements, allowing them to limit the email spam we see in our inboxes. 

Upon launch, the website’s future looked promising. Committee pages began populating and the user count rose to over one third of the student population. However, after the launch, it quickly became apparent that people were not going to use it. Emails continued to be sent, no one other than CTC created any posts, and the proposals feature was never put into use. 

I’ll admit, the Student Government Website might not be my finest work. The page loads felt clunky at times and it uses the same text input as the Parker Portal, which is a whole different topic. However it wasn’t unusable, and more importantly, it is better than our current systems. 

The proposal system would have removed the need to count hands, improving accuracy and saving time. The posts would keep important information in one place and allow each group to have a mailing list to only send emails to people who care. It seems beneficial to all.

So why was it never used? I can’t be certain about the exact reasons nobody used the site, but it seems to break down into categories: Cabinet, Committees, and the Assembly. I’ll start by addressing the Cabinet, who I believe had the most potential to use the site. 

They had the power to post proposals, senate topics, and agendas on the website. The proposals I have a reason for: they liked the notion of voting by hand, which I might understand if you’re directing a movie, but it seems kind of silly when you’re running a democracy. Even the United States Congress uses electronic voting at this point, and they’re deciding who we go to war with. 

As for Senate topics and agendas, the reasons the website was not used are not clear, but I could see how some might view writing an email as easier. I would disagree because not only does creating a post on the website have a built-in email sender, but it also saves it in one accessible place on the website. 

Onto committees then. I don’t think this has much to do with the website at all. The fact of the matter is that committees don’t do much, other than maybe send an email once a semester.

Finally, the assembly. The assembly is the majority of the student body but also has the fewest independent-use cases for the website. Other than easy access to the Constitution and Committee Bylaws, they rely on the aforementioned groups of people to provide them with use for the site. Without content on the site, there is very little reason for the assembly to use it. And so, a pyramid is formed.

The Student Government Website isn’t the only failure to modernize SG in the past. There was a proposal about voting through Google Form that practically disappeared. We still count attendance by the kids that two people can see – which has led to both wrongful absences and corruption. 

I want to see this change. Change is hard, but sometimes it’s worth it. Student Government is in desperate need of some new technology. 

So what can be done? Soon student organizations will be getting their own pages on the Parker Portal – which will function similarly to those on the SG Website – like the kind CTC, MX, and SG have had for a while. These pages could also be set up as a home for upcoming proposals and agendas, recreating aspects of the Student Government Website in a place that everyone is forced to use already. 

As for attendance, SchoolPass scanners or possibly an optimized equivalent could be positioned outside the auditorium for easier and more accurate attendance taking. 

The SG Website may not have survived, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t make these changes either. And who knows, maybe one day we’ll find a use for it and it’ll come back.

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