Events

Max Rust

Finding out about what’s going on on campus has entered a new dimension.
The University Events Calendar Web page went online earlier this month, offering readers an up-to-date listing of University community happenings. Community and Cultural Affairs Director Tom Trow, an architect of the page, explained that the new site helps people in need of information on campus events.
“The primary function of the calendar is to make it easy for anybody, anywhere to find out what’s happening at the University,” Trow said.
The success of the calendar is based on an idea Trow said he had in 1993, when the notion first surfaced for an electronic list of campus events.
“Everybody who submits materials submits their own information directly. Information gets presented directly by the submitting organization,” he said.
The page operates by having different student organizations and departments in the University submit their information for an event. A group or department must first become authorized to post an event by sending a request to the events calendar coordinator who, in return, gives it a short registration form to fill out.
After the organization has been deemed “eligible,” meaning it has to be a student-run group, members must attend a one-hour training session where they receive their user name and password, allowing them to post their events in the calendar. The postings are then edited for accuracy and clarity.
“This is a way for organizations and departments to sell their events,” said Gil David, the events calendar coordinator. “Basically, they can advertise for anything, as long as it’s in the University of Minnesota’s guidelines.”
The content of an organization’s listing must comply with the University’s policy on publishing information on the World Wide Web. A statement of that policy reads, “The quality of information published by the University plays an important role in maintaining the strong reputation and image of the University. This policy sets minimal standards that are meant to ensure that information published electronically is visually appealing and well-written and follows the same high standards as other forms of published material.”
“What we do not want to do is censor,” explained Jeff Sturkey, manager of special events in human relations and another co-developer of the Web site. “If someone objects (to an event listing), we will refer the person to reply to the organization which posted it.”
The project of developing the calendar has been funded by about $40,000 in cash grants, capital utilized primarily to pay for computer design time and for the marketing effort. The position of events calendar coordinator was also created with an in-kind grant from Vice President of Student Development and Athletics McKinley Boston.
As readership of the Web page grows, Trow hopes print calendars will use the site’s information, as well as other online calendars and events lists.
His vision for the future of the events page lies in the development of its accommodation to users.
“Our final step to making this really accessible information to virtually anybody is to move to a touch-screen technology,” Trow said.
He envisions touch-screen kiosks, directly linked to the Web page, being located in key points on campus and in the community.
“Somebody can drive up, stay in their car and touch-screen their way, then get a printout at the end,” Trow explained. “That’s not very far away.”