MSA seeks Web site to connect students

The proposed Web site would be modeled after “myU Portal.”

Chad Hamblin

The University is a big place, and the Minnesota Student Association said it wants to help make it a little smaller.

MSA said it wants the University to have a Web site available to all students to help them communicate better. Andy Howe, assistant director of Orientation and First-Year Programs, said the Web site would be similar to one that currently exists only for first-year students.

The existing Web site, called “myU,” is available to all University students but gives first-year students access to an enhanced version of myU, called “myU Portal.”

When first-year students log in to myU Portal, it can recognize whether they live on campus, what classes they’re taking and what college they belong to. The portal then displays specific information to each student, said Howe, the Web site’s co-coordinator.

MSA passed a unanimous position statement Tuesday asking the University to create a Web site similar to myU Portal that would be available to all undergraduate students and include MSA in the design process.

MSA started brainstorming its own Web site when it realized myU Portal was very similar to what they wanted to accomplish, said Rick Orr, chairman of the Academics and Services Committee.

Orr said he wanted MSA’s position statement to pass so it could start working with the future Web site designers as soon as possible. The more involvement MSA has, the more likely students are to use it, he said.

“This is a great way for MSA to work with the administration and start at the ground floor,” he said. “We’ll have a foot in the door already.”

Howe said this is the first year the University has tried myU Portal with enhanced features for first-year students.

He said that because of the success of the portal, the University is starting to discuss allowing other undergraduate students the same access.

Discussions of an undergraduate portal are still in the early stages, he said.

Still, student voices were important in creating the first-year portal, and the creation of any future undergraduate portal would involve students, Howe said.

“They’re going to be the users,” Howe said. “We want to make sure this tool meets their needs.”

Nursing junior Erin Pettersen said the portal was similar to thefacebook.com, a Web site that helps connect college students across the nation.

She said she really likes thefacebook.com and thinks a similar University site would be even better.

“It’s definitely a great idea,” she said.

Kamala Johnson, a first-year student, said she’s never used the first-year portal and isn’t sure why it’s necessary.

“I’ve been to check it out one time to see what it was,” she said. “Everything I need, I find on One Stop.”

She said she isn’t alone.

“I don’t know a lot of people who do use it,” she said.

First-year student Jason Graske said he has also heard of the first-year portal, but never uses it.

“I just don’t really need it,” he said. “I can see the point of it being convenient, but I just never go to the Web site.”

The MSA Forum also approved the All Campus Elections Commission on Tuesday. The members of the commission are Tariq Bashir, Travis Coates, Adam Engelman, Marianne Ramos-Schulze and Steven Wang.