A few months after its inception, students are beginning to familiarize themselves with Yale Connect, the University’s newly created online platform for managing student activities, although students’ opinions on the platform have been mixed.
Last March, Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarríbar unveiled the platform, which includes a unified calendar of student-life activities as well as web pages listing leaders and events for each student club, with the ultimate goal of increasing campus accessibility to student organizations.
“Before Yale Connect, we had a registration system that students built 15 years ago. The system was out of date and slowly dying, so we knew it needed to be replaced,” Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Hannah Peck said. “We wanted to be able to keep better records and help students track the history of their groups. Students have also been asking for a centralized student organizations calendar for years, and Yale Connect can finally provide that platform.”
So far this semester, student organizations have had the option of using Yale Connect for a variety of purposes. According to Yale College Council Vice President Nick Girard ’19, the YCC has used the platform to allow club leaders to submit funding applications to the council, as well as to administer the YCC and First-Year College Council elections.
While Girard said the new platform streamlines the funding process for undergraduate clubs — the old method was “difficult to use” and “outdated,” he said — he added that some students have complained of issues voting for council representatives through Yale Connect.
“We have certainly seen with the spring and now fall elections that the Yale Connect platform and our new voting forms need to be reevaluated to make it easier for students to vote,” Girard said.
For the Yale College Democrats, Yale Connect has mainly served as the organization’s method of booking rooms for their info sessions and meetings. Still, using Yale Connect has not come without its problems, according to Yale College Democrats president Josh Hochman ’18. Hochman noted that while the Yale Connect software is much easier to use than Yale’s old platform, there have been several times this fall when room requests have been pending for days without being approved.
Hochman said these problems were not too difficult to fix, however, once he contacted Yale staff who were able to provide the club with a room they could use.
Community Health Educators co-coordinator Lilly Scheibe ’19 said her organization has faced similar challenges in using the program to book rooms. After submitting a request to host an event in a room that Yale Connect displayed as available, she received an email days later telling her that she needed to find a new room, she said.
“This can be really difficult, considering we’re one of the largest undergraduate organizations and we can have up to 100 people in a meeting, and there are just not that many spaces on campus that can fit that many people,” Scheibe said.
Additionally, while one of Yale Connect’s central features is its ability to inform the student body of the time and location of events held by various student groups, both Hochman and Scheibe said their organizations still found Facebook and email panlists to be the most effective ways of publicizing their events.
Despite these issues, Girard said he is still optimistic that Yale Connect will ultimately be valuable to the student body after its initial growing pains.
“I think Yale Connect will be an immensely helpful platform for student organization management going forward,” he said. “As with any new software platform, there are definitely areas that will continue to need improvement. The transition has been a bit difficult for the campus overall, but with increasing opportunities for student groups to get specific advice and assistance in how to utilize Yale Connect for their organization, confusion will subside.”
Yale Connect is hosted by the platform OrgSync, an online community management site that serves colleges and universities across the country.
Jesse Nadel | firstname.lastname@example.org