At a university with more than 300 student organizations, many events and meetings may go unnoticed by the majority of the scholastic body.
Senior entertainment business major Jon Gross is unsettled by this and is making a personal effort to get the word out about the events occurring on campus at any given moment.
At the beginning of the semester, Gross said he became motivated to fix the online UCF events calendar system because he saw potential in it.
With his goal in mind, he ended up at the UCF marketing department after, Gross said, both the Student Government Association and the Office of Student Involvement overlooked his visions for event promotion.
Gross spent half an hour pitching his promotional ideas to Patrick Burt, web communications director for UCF marketing, and was hired on the spot as an intern.
The internship revolves around advocating the use of the online calendar to students, mainly by word of mouth.
“UCF is fairly understaffed, so to have a student that”s eager to get things going and embed the calendar in campus life is a great way to promote its use,” Burt said. “He had the energy and the drive and desire to do something to improve it, and we channeled that.”
Gross said that his first step was to follow every UCF student organization on Facebook, and then he began posting their meeting times on the events calendar.
Gross would then attend the meetings, inform the organization officers of how to post events to the site and leave the rest up to the club.
“Posting events on Facebook and in the college buildings is good and all, but that just targets the people already in the club,” Gross said. “With the calendar, everyone can see the events.”
Much of Gross’ internship involves him approaching student organization officers in the Student Union and showing them how to use the events calendar.
“People will say that it’s too hard to enter an event, and then Jon will pull out his iPad and walk them through the steps,” Burt said.
Gross said he initially noticed flaws in the way that events were being promoted when he transferred to UCF last fall, and he found it difficult to get involved on campus.
Gross said he would go to the third floor of the Union to check for newly posted events, but to him, that was a tedious and time-consuming way of doing things.
“I wanted a place that on my phone or on my computer that showed it all – every event going on at UCF,” Gross said.
The UCF marketing department made the first leap toward achieving such a system when it adopted a new online calendar that allows any student with an NID to submit events. The calendar can be found through UCF’s main website, and a list of daily events are sent out to every student and staff member via the “Good Morning UCF” emails.
The calendar officially launched in August 2010. However, Burt said it has been difficult promoting the system, as there is a misconception that only club presidents can submit events.
“When the new system launched we went around, talked to different departments, and lot of them had good idea and events,” Burt said. “But they weren’t using the calendar. It’s not so much a technology change; it’s a behavioral change.”
Burt said that many student organizations have seen growth at meetings, possibly as a direct result of Gross’ efforts.
Johnny Le, vice president of the Young Investor’s Club and senior business marketing major, said that Gross approached him about posting club meetings on the calendar at the beginning of the school year. Le agreed and said that since the organization has begun promoting through the site, it has seen a 30 percent growth in meeting attendance.
“It’s an underutilized tool because a lot of clubs don’t know about it,” Le said.
Gross said that the Hispanic American Student Association is another organization that has seen gains as a result of the events calendar. The club used to have about eight to 10 attendees at last year’s meetings but now has about 35 attendees.
“Their presence on campus has tripled,” Gross said.
More events have been posted on the calendar in the past two months than ever before, Gross said. Last September, around 160 events were posted. This September, more than 400 events could be seen on the site.
Burt said now that the calendar is finally getting the push it needed for organizations to take advantage of its usefulness, the marketing department is developing a more user-friendly online calendar for UCF that utilizes the best that social media has to offer.
Possible calendar system overhauls include a place where students can upload pictures of events they have attended, as well as the ability to rate the events.
Burt said that he would also like the calendar to be integrated with sites like Facebook and Twitter.
“The kids right now that are in the dorm rooms that don’t know how to get involved, this is a one stop shop for them to see what’s going on for the day, the week or the month,” Gross said. “This could single-handedly bring together the entire campus.”