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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Brandeis clubs should embrace the Internet

Published: February 29, 2008
Section: Opinions

A few months ago, it was reported in The Justice that Senior Vice President for Communications Lorna Miles had been working hard to try and increase our university’s visibility around the country. By recognizing this, Miles is taking a huge step in the right direction for our young university. But these kinds of efforts do not have to be pursued only by the administration. In the increasingly online world that we are a part of, it is extremely important to maintain to club leaders that the Internet is a valuable resource to generate interest and recruit new members. More often than not, it seems that most clubs currently underutilize their free webspaces.

Take for example a few clubs around campus that seem to be more popular than their websites dictate they are. The Poker Club, for example, has a page that doesn’t list any kind of upcoming schedule, provide contact information for current leaders, and looks like it is perennially stuck in 1998. Or how about Archon’s site, which proudly announces “Class of 2005: Your Brandeis Yearbook is here at last!” Another example would be the hugely popular BCAC, which has photos from February of 2004, and no coming events, or contact info whatsoever. Perhaps the passage on the Photography Club’s site sums it up best, “This web page hasn’t been updated for a long time, I finally figured out how to access it, more to come soon.” Unfortunately, the list of club sites that have similar types of problems goes on and on.

Suppose I am a prospective student who wants to attend Brandeis, but really wants to be a part of the school’s yearbook (or any of the numerous clubs with half- baked websites). Though the inactivity or non-glitz of these websites may not reflect the actual club’s popularity, it would certainly deter these prospective students from getting more involved.

Not only that, but there is a valuable opportunity here that is being missed out on by numerous clubs. This space can be used in a variety of ways, whether it be posting audio clips of a guest speaker brought to campus by a specific club, videos, coverage in campus newspapers, and all of the other lovely features that are available in this era of Web 2.0.

Granted, not all clubs have shoddy websites. Groups like the Brandeis debate team, TRISK, the Waltham Group, and BOO all provide more complete and interactive websites. Leaders of these organizations have evidently seen the importance of the Internet and have integrated it into their clubs. These are perhaps simple models to follow for other club leaders who need inspiration for a revamped website.

So what can be done about this issue at our university? The thing to do that would make the most sense would be a greater amount of collaboration between groups and departments that are technologically savvy, such as the Computer Operators Group, the Computer Science department, and LTS. Putting together a decent looking website for many of these clubs would be very simple for pros in these areas of study. Or perhaps for a more direct route, convince your technologically savvy friend, or someone who has designed a nicer looking website to help you out.