Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

RowdyLink still cumbersome three years after premiere

Launched in 2010, RowdyLink — also known as CollegiateLink because of its domain name — was created to help the officers of UTSA’s student organizations manage and grow their membership. However, three years after its implementation, student feedback about the usefulness of the site is lukewarm at best.

“I’d compare it to a cult; you’ve got to be introduced to it. You can’t just figure it out on your own.” That’s how Andrew Sposato, president of the UTSA Green Society here, described RowdyLink.

“I think it’s a great tool for new students if they can figure it out,” stated Sposato. “But it’s not very user-friendly, so it’s not as great for spreading the word as it could be.” He added that the Green Society rarely uses their RowdyLink page to contact its membership since most students prefer to use Facebook.

Zack Dunn, president of the Student Government Association, had a similar experience. “In the beginning, I wasn’t the biggest fan. It’s a lot to take in at first, and there’s just so much there.”

Dunn believes that although RowdyLink has a high learning curve, the time and effort he spent learning how to use the website have been worth it. “It’s pretty easy to edit things, which saves us time. Updating things, editing things, just the general interface really. Once you get down into it, it’s very simple.”

The president of the Vietnamese Student Association, John Nguyen, had a similar opinion to Dunn’s. “It’s pretty useful to be linked to the school website and have all of the organizations filed under it,” said Nguyen. “It’s just a little hard to use because nothing’s organized in a way you’re used to. But other than that, I think it’s still a good, useful tool.”

According to Lydia Bueno, associate director of student activities, a total of 311 active organizations use RowdyLink. That number continues to rise every semester as more students work to get involved in campus life.

To Sposato, the catalog of UTSA’s different student groups is one of RowdyLink’s best features. “It’s all in one place. And once you can navigate it, there’s a lot there. And I mean a lot — constitutions, rosters, everything. It’s a good way to get a glimpse of (UTSA) culture in a way,” Sposato explained.

When RowdyLink’s functionality was compared to group pages on sites like Facebook or Twitter, the representatives had mixed opinions on how well RowdyLink measured up – especially when considering its ability to recruit new members.

“It’s definitely subpar because other sites already have all the utilities Rowdylink’s trying to develop,” stated Nguyen. “But I think RowdyLink could be a potential contender due to the fact that it’s linked into the school network. It’d be more official.”

Expressing a similar view, Dunn stated, “RowdyLink is more of that professional, university kind of co-facilitated platform. Facebook, Twitter – those are more personal, and I don’t really think you can compare the two types fairly.”

For Sposato, RowdyLink’s biggest drawback is its lackluster notification system. He explained that the ability to create and invite people to events, one of the most important features for organizations, is extremely easy to use in Facebook but tediously difficult to use on Rowdylink.

When asked what improvements could be made to the site, all three representatives agreed that the main focus of Student Activities should be making the site more accessible to new users. A close second was providing an organized, single-page overview of upcoming events that wasn’t cumbersome to read or navigate.

“The information is very segregated,” said Sposato. “I think it’d be nice if there was some inclusion of all the events somehow. There are just so many, and it’d be helpful to have them all available on just one page.”

Nguyen’s solution to these problems would be restructuring the website’s interface and adding a suggestion box, as the latter would allow students to contribute more personally to the development of the site. Sposato suggested the creation of a guidebook or a single calendar that would list all the events available for students to attend.

“It’s silly,” Sposato commented on RowdyLink’s usefulness to student organizations, “but not completely ineffective.”

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