Building better relationships with WebTech
There are a lot of committees on the Student Senate. It can be really hard to differentiate between committees or even remember that we have them if you are not familiar with how Student Government works. We have committees to support initiatives in the realm of academics, student life, facilities, and even community outreach. More recently, we have created committees to support dining and food services as well as the Arch. All of these committees have one common goal: to improve student life at Rensselaer. One committee that does this in a large way is the Web Technologies Group.
The Web Technologies Group, more commonly known as WebTech, is a group of highly skilled students that create, maintain, and deploy software and hardware that assists with the efficiency and accessibility of web services for students. Their projects have not always gotten the credit they deserve. One of their biggest projects is developing the Shuttle Tracker. Another project is improving the petitions website, which allows students to create petitions and verifies student signatures. They also spearheaded the elections website, which informs the student body about candidates and publicly tracks candidate nominations during Student Government elections. On top of all of this, they create surveys for the Senate and for all of the Senate committees in a way that maintains student anonymity. These services have been used for years and are valuable to the entire RPI community. They would not be possible if it weren’t for the contributions of WebTech members, who put in countless hours of time and energy to make sure students have access to these services.
Over the past couple of months, there have been many communication breakdowns and unjust actions taken with respect to WebTech projects. Moving forward, I would like to be held accountable to consult with WebTech representatives before making any decisions related to technological solutions for Student Government. This action of respecting the role of WebTech by asking for feedback has not been visible throughout Senate in the past year. I believe that they are not acknowledged enough for their contributions.
As the only technology-focused committee of any body of Student Government, they provide an invaluable experience to students, allowing them to learn new skills that directly translate to courses and life after RPI. It is an incredibly rewarding committee to be a part of—if the committee is supported correctly. In the past, WebTech has updated the Senate on projects in the form of general reports. This system works for other committees, but it really doesn’t do justice to the weekly routine WebTech members commit to. In the future, I would like to see WebTech have a different level of attention from the Senate as we invite them to go into more depth about the projects they work on. We could also do a better job of asking WebTech to consult on technological issues we face. These issues are exposed in the work of other committees, such as the Student Government Communications Committee and the Elections Commission. In the past, the relationships between all of these committees have been subpar at best. Internally, we need to do a better job of defining these relationships and setting precedents for future Senates to follow. I look forward to helping these relationships grow so that our committees and our Senate can function in a healthy, symbiotic way.