Student organizations deal with frequent problems using OrgSync
Registered student organizations deal with several challenges each semester. OrgSync, the campus engagement software that RSOs use, is one of them.
According to its website, OrgSync is a “cloud-hosted, software-as-a-service platform.” For student organization leaders, that means an online platform to communicate with members, publicize events, book meeting spaces, share documents and collect dues.
“Think of OrgSync as what Blackboard is for classrooms, as something for student organizations,” said Danielle Rossman, assistant director for student organizations.
Some RSO leaders at CMU still run into reccurring problems with the program, such as registering their organization, or reserving rooms on campus.
Jason Hall, president of Spectrum, an RSO offering guidance to LGBT+ students on campus, said he thinks OrgSync is inadequate. He has had trouble registering his RSO, which led to missing out on prime meeting spaces.
In addition, he noted that room requests must be submitted at least 10-15 days in advance, which can make last minute plans and meetings difficult to plan.
“Overall, I think 10-15 days is too long, there is a lot of miscommunication, and it makes programming difficult the way it is currently,” Hall said.
Ashleigh Laho, president of the Organization of Women Leaders (OWLs), had trouble with OrgSnyc at the beginning of the semester but said things have improved. She said members of OWLs plan ahead to make sure the organization can secure needed rooms at least a month in advance.
However, Laho said there have been times when a room request was denied and the date of the event had to be moved to submit a new request within the 10-15 day timeframe.
While some RSOs can meet in any classroom, certain ones have specific needs, such as After Hours Improv. The campus RSO performs about three times a semester and members need to book a large lecture hall to perform their shows.
After Hours president Kayla Cooney said the organization had more troubles with OrgSync last year, but has dealt with double-booked rooms and late confirmation emails for room requests, and have had to cancel shows as a result.
This year, After Hours Improv meets twice a week in Anspach Hall — Once in a lecture hall and once in a regular classroom. Several times already this year they have had other RSOs ask to switch rooms for the lecture hall.
“We don't mind making this trade on rehearsal days if we're asked, but it makes me wonder how often OrgSync might suggest this as an option to those who want to reserve our room,” Cooney said. “Once in a while is OK, but we still want a level of respect honored for our request.”
Once applications are submitted through OrgSync they are reviewed and approved through various offices on campus, which may result in the unsatisfactory results for RSOs.
Rossman, who has worked for Student Activities and Involvement for five years, was still a student at Central Michigan University when campus made the switch from an internal program created by CMU web developers, Reggie, to OrgSync, about eight years ago.
At the beginning of the semester, Rossman gave a 20 minute presentation on how to use OrgSync and its benefits at "Get Organized," a mandatory student organization orientation. There are also monthly student organization leadership development workshops where student organization leaders have another opportunity to learn how to use OrgSync.
After a student organization submits a room request on OrgSync, the SAI office will review the request and determine if it was filled out correctly, said Caitlyn Labadie, a student assistant in the Office of Student Activities and Involvement.
"Our role in that process is just confirming that they are a registered student organization," Rossman said.
Once approved, the application is sent to Events and Conference Services (PLAN), where it is reviewed and sent out to other departments and building coordinators on campus.
If the request form is for a space in the University Center, it is booked through them. Other spaces on campus have to go through the corresponding department.
The building coordinators for each department review if the requested room is available. If it’s not, it is sent back to SAI, which denies the request through OrgSync. If the room is available, it goes back to PLAN who will alert the RSO of their confirmation and send out a booking contract. SAI will also be alerted and will go back into OrgSync and approve the request.
Labadie has been working for SAI for two years, and is still actively learning the process herself. She said right now the requests are taking longer to process because of the amplitude of request at this time in the semester.
If an RSO submits a request for an event that isn’t in the 10-15 business day period, it automatically gets denied because there isn’t enough time to process the event.
“It definitely is a long process, and there are a lot of people involved, which is why it takes so long,” Labadie said.
Because the requests are handled by so many different offices, mistakes are bound to be made, and this may be the cause of the mix-ups.
Labadie and Rossman said the SAI office is always open as a resource for all RSOs on campus. If any organization members have questions about OrgSync, they can seek help at the SAI office on the first floor of the Bovee University Center, where someone can help them step by step.