SLE to launch Engage after spring break



Engage’s landing page includes links to events and ways to get involved.

Move over, MyAllegheny: There is a new web platform for student events on campus.
More than five months after initially planned, the rollout of club management software Engage is set to begin this week, opening a new chapter in the way students and clubs interact with each other and the wider community.
“We were trying to find a solution to the problem of people saying, ‘I don’t know how to get involved with a club,’” said Assistant Dean for Student Leadership & Engagement Eric Stolar. “‘I know they’re there and I know they’re having events but I don’t know how to get in contact with them.’”
The platform works by giving each student organization a centralized space on Engage to coordinate all sorts of activities. Club leaders can see their budgets in real time, privately share documents among individual cabinet members, and post events on a schedule for the wider student body to see. The Engage platform is already used by a number of other schools, including the University of Portland and Boston University.
Engage was originally set to launch in time for a training for all clubs in mid-September, but resurfaced only a few weeks ago, when Dean for Student Life Trae Yeckley mentioned it during an Allegheny Student Government General Assembly. Stolar cited turnover in SLE as part of the delay.
“The (staff member) who had that knowledge and background with Engage left the college at the beginning of the fall, so we lost some of that familiarity with the program, so that was me and Gloria Burgess, our Student Life Coordinator, getting some time to get used to the website ourselves and to kind of learn that lens of it,” he said.
The work was complicated by backend details in getting the platform running, including importing the 100-odd student organizations on campus and setting up login information for every student.
“We were expecting to have a little bit more time in the initial build of the website that we just lost out on,” Stolar said. “It took us a little longer to get in and be able to do some of those fine details and making sure we were presenting something that was going to be actually usable.”
While the website is up and running, it is not populated with any events. This week, SLE will be connecting with club leaders to get that ball rolling.
“We’ll give them probably about a week or so to do some internal work and engage with that special access to club leaders,” Stolar said. “After that — we’re looking now at after spring break is when we’ll start rolling it out to the more general population.”
Unlike MyAllegheny or social media, which is often limited to announcing events that day or in the next few days, this schedule can extend days or even weeks in advance — which Stolar hopes will streamline students’ ability to find events they’re interested in.
“Maybe those things get posted once or emailed once and can kind of get lost in the influx of other materials you’re getting,” Stolar said. “Engage will always be updating. It will always be live. So you can always log in and find something that way versus having to look through your email to find more information on an event you might have seen.”
This new schedule of events could open new doors for club planning. Grounds for Change — which regularly hosts club events — sees Engage as a possible way to expand coordination with other student groups.
“It definitely sounds like it could be a good idea and a possible way to make our schedule more known and available,” said GFC Treasurer Marshall Ramos, ’24. “Then again, it’s years of systematic work that we’ve built into our operations that would have to be changed.”
Where most room spaces on campus can be reserved through the Scheduler platform, GFC’s space must be reserved through the club itself to centralize information for the café’s leadership. Changing this system, Ramos said, requires developing new procedures and a careful weighing of pros and cons.
“I definitely think it’ll come down to our events team and what they feel,” Ramos said. “I think that if we do make the switch, it’ll be a year or two down the line, once the platform’s settled and we can work around different bugs and stuff.”
Beyond the schedule, Ramos thinks that the platform will make leadership changes in student organizations easier to handle.
“It sounds like it can centralize some of the information on clubs, which I know is a huge problem,” Ramos said. “As a member of many different clubs, officer transitions are some of the worst things to deal with.”
Since the platform can host club constitutions and other documents critical to running a student organization, transitioning materials from one student to the next is just a matter of changing who can access what.
“When we go in and put Student X as the next president, all of that information that president had access to in Engage will automatically go over to that next person, so we don’t have to worry about making sure there’s that email follow-up or trying to share Google Drives or something like that,” Stolar said.
Included in the information club leaders can access is a live look at clubs’ budgets and finances, which ASG officials hope will prove more palatable than its current update system of sending every club a spreadsheet with their current budget balance about once a week.
“I’ve had complaints about the structure of it and it being in a more readable format, so this is just for us to make it easier for clubs to look,” said ASG Director of Finance Adriana Solis, ’23.
However, ASG’s underlying fund request processes will remain in place, according to Solis.
“The process and the timelines and everything are still going to be the same,” Solis said. “We’re not going to change that. It’s just so that I don’t have to send out weekly emails with this really disgusting-looking spreadsheet with all the club names and all their transactions and their club budget … it doesn’t really change the process.”
Solis is looking forward to the platform empowering clubs to put their events into the public sphere and connect more efficiently with their financial status.
“I’m excited for clubs to get their own platform,” she said. “I know that’s been a lot of conflict in the past, if clubs want to be able to promote their stuff and get access to their financial information so that they can accurately plan their events a lot quicker than the turnaround is in ASG.”