Student groups face new requirement to update Wildcat Connection profiles

Lauren Caruba

Northwestern’s Center for Student Involvement has paired up with the Associated Student Government to encourage more student groups to create updated profiles on the website Wildcat Connection.

Wildcat Connection is run through CollegiateLink, an online platform used on more than 200 college campuses across the country. The site allows students and group leaders to display contact information, advertise events and create committees and listservs.

Although the University implemented Wildcat Connection about a year ago, the majority of student groups have yet to update their contact information and few students use the site.

However, this Spring Quarter, student groups will be required to update their Wildcat Connection profiles in order to participate in ASG’s annual Student Leadership Training in May, said Weinberg junior Lauren Masterson, vice president of student groups for ASG.

“We’re really just trying to get student groups on there to see if it works,” Masterson said. “There’s been very slow reactions for getting people to sign up.”

At the training, ASG will have several stations to train student group leaders about using other features of Wildcat Connection, Masterson said. She said the site would provide a better way to search for student groups and events at NU.

Groups will also have to update their information in order to get a spot at NU’s activities fair, said Hope Wallace, a staffer for the Center for Student Involvement and a graduate student in the masters program in higher education administration and policy. Student groups will also need to go through Wildcat Connection to apply for storage and office space and mailboxes on the third floor of the Norris University Center, Wallace said.

Jason Hanson, coordinator of student organizations and leadership development at the Center for Student Involvement, said the push for Wildcat Connection this quarter reflects the desire to have the site up-to-date for incoming freshmen as they transition into life at NU. He said the website has the potential to be a “one-stop shop” for freshmen to learn more about the NU community.

“It’s a lot like getting an activities fair, but it’s all online,” Hanson said.

Hanson said Wildcat Connection could help improve communication and collaboration between different student groups. He said students can also use the site to create polls, upload photo galleries and display student attendance at events through scanned IDs.

Throughout the year, the Center for Student Involvement has been reaching out to various student groups and departments to educate them about the features of Wildcat Connection, Wallace said.

Mayfest co-chair Janna Kaplan said the lack of awareness about Wildcat Connection among students hinders its use by student groups.

“Since the average Northwestern student doesn’t know about Wildcat Connection, then it’s not worth it to create a profile,” the Communication senior said.

McCormick junior Ethan Romba, technology vice president for ASG, has been working with the Center for Student Involvement on raising awareness about Wildcat Connection among students. He said he would like to work this summer on creating a separate website that would display the information uploaded to Wildcat Connection in a more appealing manner.

Romba said a site like Wildcat Connection would allow all the information about NU student groups to be stored in one location online.

“It really has the potential to be a very unifying web service,” Romba said. “We really lack a centralized place where people can go online and see what’s going on on campus.”

Masterson said when the University implemented Wildcat Connection, the ASG student group directory was deleted, which has made obtaining the contact information for some student groups difficult. Getting all student groups registered with Wildcat Connection would restore groups’ online presence, she said.

NU’s efforts to increase use of Wildcat Connection coincided with a surprise visit at NU by CollegiateLink representatives last week after Communication junior Savan Patel, the community outreach co-chair for Northwestern Community Development Corps, became the one-millionth student to register on a CollegiateLink site. As a prize, site consultants worked with about 30 people from departments across campus to teach them about the site, Wallace said.

Wallace said logging into Wildcat Connection will be easier this quarter, since the site’s login process has been integrated with the web portal NU Link. She said Wildcat Connection will not serve as a replacement to groups’ current sites, but rather as an additional source of information, both for NU community members and those unfamiliar with the University.

“Wildcat Connection should not be seen as something that is being forced on groups, but as a resource to groups,” Wallace said. “It’s a way for them to be affiliated with Northwestern in an official way.”

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