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Student Senate taps into social technology

Public Affairs Officer senior Norah Carroll live-blogged Thursday’s meeting, in Senate’s most recent effort to use technology.

The interactive, streaming-text coverage could be accessed through a link on the Drake Student Senate website. Carroll provided quotes from the meeting’s speakers and senators, links with more information about the topics being covered and interacted with the students who were following along.

Senate has been exploring its options this semester in terms of its use of technology and online tools. This live blog came after another meeting was live-tweeted, a move Carroll was concerned was overwhelming for many followers of @DrakeStuSenate.

“I think this is perfect. Listening to a podcast takes a long time and can be boring and I understand not wanting 121,987,051 tweets on your feed,” user Katie posted to the live blog on Thursday night.

President senior Samantha Haas had similar thoughts, and said Senate is still experimenting with the different ways it can communicate with students.

“We’re finding the delicate balance of keeping people updated and not inundating them with excessive information,” she said.

They had around six students following, asking questions and providing feedback during the live blog, Carroll told senators as this week’s meeting concluded.

“I would just encourage you all, whether it’s e-mail migration or with other upcoming issues, to continue getting student feedback using these online tools that make it a lot easier to hear from students, and in a way that they feel more comfortable with a lot of the time,” she said.

Carroll and junior Jen Calder are co-public affairs officers, one of two new positions created by Senate this year. Sophomore Michael Riebel was elected to the other post, technology liaison. One of his responsibilities has included managing the Senate podcasts.

“It’s crazy how simple it is,” he said. Drake Multimedia Producer James McNab assisted him earlier this year with the initial set up, and now Riebel said the podcasting is fairly hassle-free. He readies the microphone, then simply pushes “record” at the beginning of the meeting and “stop” at its adjournment.

“By the time I get back to my room, it’s online,” he said.

Riebel explained that the process was much more tedious in the past, with a Senate representative even editing the podcasts before they were posted. But none of that happens now, Riebel said.

“We want to give you what you would have heard if you would have come to the meeting,” he said. “It holds all of us accountable with what we’re saying and how the meetings go. If a student wants to get in the know, now they really can.”

“In the past, Senate has gotten kind of a bad rep about not being transparent,” Haas said. But by using these online communication tools, they’re hoping to remedy that. Haas said that a Facebook and Twitter presence makes Senate more visible to students, but without making them go out of their way to get information.

Riebel said reaching the student body online is something that needed to be done a long time ago.

“It’s cool that it’s getting done now,” he said.

For more information:

• http://drakesenate.com/
• http://twitter.com/drakestusenate
• www.facebook.com/drakesenate
• http://itunesu.drake.edu

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