Next week Stanford is switching applications for the management of the more than 650 student groups and organizations on campus, moving from a system called MyGroups to a different system, titled OrgSync.
Student Activities and Leadership (SAL) sent emails last week to inform student club and organization leaders about training sessions for the new site, which will be held this Wednesday and Thursday at Tresidder Union and the Black Community Service Center, respectively. The new system will officially go live for student use next Wednesday.
As of last Friday, more than 200 different groups and clubs indicated that they will be represented in these sessions, according to SAL assistant director Troy Steinmetz.
MyGroups, the creation of a Stanford alumnus, was designed specifically for the University and was implemented for campus use in 2003. It was initially intended to serve as a record of all registered groups and their current leaders. The University introduced a later version of the system in 2005, which included financing, event planning and approval for the student groups and organizations.
For the past four years, SAL has considered finding a different method of student group organization and management, Steinmetz said. The first MyGroups program was constructed using an older computer language, which limited the University in adopting certain updates.
Steinmetz added that student members were also not updating the site frequently enough to provide the most up-to-date information for other students searching through MyGroups.
“It’s served us well, certainly at the time, and it gets done the job that it needs to get done. But students and staff have had increasing demand for system,” Steinmetz said. “We couldn’t really afford to pay for development to continually keep MyGroups up.”
Last year, a team including Steinmetz and Seth Snyder, assistant dean of student life and advisor to the Stanford Band, began to talk to students and assess what students needed from group management systems at Stanford.
When they had compiled their information, they began looking at possible replacements for MyGroups, Steinmetz said. After comparing multiple systems, they settled on three possible candidates. Of those three finalists, the team chose OrgSync.
“OrgSync had a better design, was more intuitive and what we liked was that their development timeline was faster,” Steinmetz said.
OrgSync is used in more than 200 college campuses to manage student clubs and organizations. Its website advertises itself as “an online community management system that centralizes campus involvement…streamlines communication and helps to build a stronger campus community.”
Through OrgSync, clubs and organizations will be able to manage full rosters and calendars, store files and create polls, discussion groups, wiki pages and to-do lists. Club members can also manage their external website from OrgSync, further centralizing the management of student organizations into one area, according to Steinmetz.
Nanci Howe, dean of SAL, mentioned at Tuesday’s Undergraduate Senate meeting that the name “OrgSync” may be changed in the coming weeks to something more Stanford-specific.
Steinmetz mentioned that the system uses Amazon web services, which are also used by startups in the Silicon Valley, as a backend. He said that students will be able to search for clubs and on-campus organizations more effectively than with the earlier system.
The new system also has appeal for the advisors of the organizations on campus.
“For me as an advisor, I had a hard time knowing from past experience what they had gone through as a group, “ Snyder said. “MyGroups was more a basic database and more of a record of what had happened – and much less interactive than what we needed it to be. As an advisor, I think OrgSync holds a lot of possibilities.”
Student testing of OrgSync included the SAL student staff as well as a few groups and organizations.
“MyGroups was not the best system,” said Theta Delta Chi president Cody Sam ’12. “It was so difficult to find resources using the old system. OrgSync makes it a minor task. It’s absolutely better.”
OrgSync does not yet include the banking and financing of MyGroups.
“Stanford has a very unique and complex method of managing student groups…we’re working with ASSU folks right now to see if it [managing funding for student organizations on OrgSync] will work,” Steinmetz said.
The training sessions for OrgSync are open to club and student organization leaders, members as well as nonmembers.
“While in some ways it’s replacing MyGroups, it’s actually blowing up and opening a whole new way of managing a group,” Steinmetz said. “It’s going from a one-dimensional system into an entire group management suite.”