New Web poll to monitor students’ vital signs

The Pulse, which is scheduled to debut today, is a new Web poll designed by the Student Government Association’s (SGA) Student Services committee. The poll will target issues at the College and allow students to respond to SGA with their thoughts and opinions.

Chris Rindosh, vice president of Student Services, has already started collecting ideas for poll questions from members of SGA. Some possibilities include, “Do you feel safer on campus with the 24-hour swipe?” “How do you feel about the number of washing machines and dryers in the residence halls?” and “Would you go to a 24/7 cafeteria?”

SGA has been working on The Pulse for almost a semester. According to Rindosh, the idea for the poll came toward the end of the fall semester. Since then, Rindosh and his committee have worked with the administration and Matthew Winkel, Web designer for the College.

According to Stephanie Cwynar, sophomore class treasurer and member of the Student Services committee, the idea for The Pulse came from the “Campus Outreach Surveys” the Student Services committee conducts each week. Questions in the surveys range from dining services issues to problems in residential buildings and are a way for the committee to get feedback from students.

“However,” Cwynar said via e-mail, “we did not have a way for students to physically see what SGA was doing to solve their problems or (for) students to see what concerns their fellow classmates had.” This, she said, was where the idea for the poll came from.

According to Rindosh, the poll will be located on the “For Students” page of the College’s Web site.

The Signal was given access to a prototype of The Pulse on March 23, prior to the poll’s official debut. According to this prototype, The Pulse will consist of a standard poll as well as a “What’s happening in your world?” section and a “Say Anything!” section.

“What’s happening in your world?” will feature brief summaries of news related to the poll question, according to Rindosh. “Say Anything!” will offer students the chance to type responses, questions and comments.

Rindosh said he hopes to attach this “Say Anything!” box to the poll itself, allowing students to respond to the poll question directly. He said all comments will be read by SGA members and if students provide contact information, SGA will respond to them. The purpose of this, Rindosh said, is to make the poll “as interactive as possible.”

As of press time, the committee members did not have a strict plan they intended to follow in regard to how often to change the poll question. Rindosh said if there is an issue students seem particularly interested in, the poll could feature that question for two or three weeks.

“The questions are not just going to be random things,” Jennifer Hill, senator of Culture and Society and a member of the committee, said via e-mail. “They will be about things that are important at (the College).”

Hill is also designing the layout of the poll’s Web page.

“Although the purpose of SGA is to represent the student body, all too often many students believe their opinions don’t matter,” she said. “Even worse, that what they say can’t change anything. The Pulse will change that.”

“Ideally, I’d like to see every single student take part in this,” Rindosh said.

He said that one of his goals with the poll is to create more effective communication between the administration and students. Rindosh called this lack of communication one of the biggest problems on campus. He pointed out that as of now the administration primarily uses mass e-mails to communicate with students. However, these e-mails are often deleted instantly by students.

Rindosh hopes The Pulse will change that by being “easy, quick and interesting.”

According to Rindosh, the responses SGA receives from students may be posted on The Pulse Web site.

“The Pulse is going to be a lot more than just a poll. It’s going to give students the opportunity to type feedback and get actual responses from real SGA members,” Cwynar said.

According to Rindosh, all the responses SGA receives from the poll will be forwarded to the appropriate committee in SGA. For example, if a student comments on meal equivalency in Brower Student Center, the comment will be forwarded to the Dining Services Committee of SGA and responded to by those committee members.

The software used to create the poll is made by WebPasties and costs $8 a month to use. Rindosh said that for now he is paying this monthly fee and will get reimbursed by SGA.

Cwynar said if the poll becomes popular, SGA has plans to add additional features, such as dates for upcoming SGA events and fun polls such as “What is your favorite movie?”

“Overall, students should really get excited about The Pulse,” Cwynar said. “It has the potential to increase the amount of feedback that SGA gets from students, which will allow for SGA to better advocate for the students at (the College).”