Editorial Notebook

Problems with easy solutions

Hi! I’m Elizabeth. While I’ve been involved in many clubs over the past three years, this is my first time being an editor at The Poly.

During my time at RPI, I’ve noticed stupid stuff that makes everyone’s jobs harder that could be fixed with a relatively small, simple, technological solution. I call these “facepalms”.

Some facepalms, like RPI’s Student Information System and Learning Management System, have been fixed somewhat. LMS can now be open in multiple tabs, which allows the user to have several readings or other course material open to cross-reference. SIS will let users backspace now; when I was a freshman, that was basically impossible. Facepalms still exist, though.

I had multiple major facepalms this last week and earlier this summer over a Navigating Rensselaer and Beyond trip I organized. First off, I couldn’t convince First Year Experience to send all the e-mails to myself and a co-organizer. My forward button was put to good use. The day before the trip, FYE didn’t bother to give us a roster, tell us where buses were meeting, or anything. They also didn’t give us enough vegetarian meals and wouldn’t offer a solution when we called them, forcing me to spend $10.66 of my own money to make sure no one starved. We made do as best we could, but things would have gone a lot smoother and RPI would have looked better were several very simple changes in place.

First off, the roster could be sent to organizers as soon as it was finalized. Freshmen on the trips could have been sent information about where and when to meet. Most people have smartphones, and we organizers knew when the meetings would be happening before the majority of freshmen would have left even for NRB overnights. Sending information directly would work much better than the envelope system currently in place (they lost mine when I was a freshman). The roster could also include dietary restrictions, so the organizers could check that they had enough vegetarian meals—or other special meals—before leaving RPI.

Better yet, the roster could include e-mails. This way, organizers could e-mail the trip participants information about the trip, in a form that can be looked at again and again. Students wouldn’t have to commit it to memory. Students with concerns could also e-mail the organizers, who could ease those concerns and make sure the freshmen had an easier transition to college.

Overall, FYE was very helpful and did a good job helping clubs organize trips. These issues, which could have been fixed rather easily now that we’re no longer in the dark ages of pre-smartphones and pre-common access to computers, affect everyone. Everyone benefits from resolving them. FYE would know that all freshmen are aware of what’s going on, can find their trip to meet new people who share their interests, and are getting their dietary needs met.

Just like how SIS and LMS have improved during my last three years, I am sure that improvements to communication between FYE and clubs will be made. We are a technological college; solutions should be easy to find.