CMU rolls out new org-tracker
This fall, Carnegie Mellon unveiled a new organization management system called The Bridge. Open to all students at the beginning of this academic year, The Bridge is available to residential communities, Greek chapters, and student organizations recognized either through Student Government or an academic department.
The initial announcement of this new website was made in a series of emails to those who would be interacting with first-year students during Orientation week — RAs, CAs, HOCs, and chapter presidents — and included an in-depth description of the system, its intention, and how to use the website.
An email sent by Dawn Sienko, Student Activities office coordinator, explained, “The Bridge is going to serve as the comprehensive involvement tool on campus, now including Greek Life, house communities, annual campus programs, campus departments that provide significant programming for students, and of course, student organizations!”
Student Body Vice President for Organizations Alyssa Danesh said that the tools currently available to participating organizations include the ability to communicate with members through the website, email, or text; the option to create a webpage without the knowledge of web design skills; and event management tools that make use of the flyerboard on the front page.
According to Danesh, The Bridge will also integrate social media, as well as document and photo storage. “This is targeted to students,” Danesh said. “Every single student can log on to the Bridge and learn about events going on to the school, subscribe to organizations they’re a part of, or join them. OrgTracker was much more targeted to just the student leaders of organizations.... [The Bridge is] more of a social platform, in that you can understand what’s going on at the university.”
Lucas Christain, associate director of Student Life for Upperclass and Greek Houses, said that while The Bridge intended to be different from social networking sites, “there are some parallels in ways things get fed to you.”
Christain said, “Organizations will have the ability to communicate with members, create surveys, hold elections, and store documents and web forms. There are a ton of tools that exist for a student leader.”
“We think it has the potential to offer solutions to the comprehensive events calendar, [...] it can be a place where people can go to find opportunities and events,” he continued.
Campus groups and organizations have already been provided with instructions on how to create their Bridge profile, and some have started sending out invitations to members of their d-lists.
The system behind The Bridge is a product from CollegiateLink, and is designed to replace the old OrgTracker system, and eventually BudgetTracker. Data from OrgTracker have already been transferred into The Bridge.
Will Weiner, the recently elected student body president, helped lead student discussion on the creation of The Bridge.
“The biggest value I saw was the need for a better, central place for organizations,” Weiner said.
Weiner thought that The Bridge would best suit a “medium-sized” student organization, with larger groups having their own organization systems, and smaller groups not necessarily needing this tool.
“It has really cool potential for it to change how finance is done for student organizations,” Weiner said. He emphasized that financial data would be available “more in real time.”
Danesh says that, while the Bridge is fully operational, more features are being added. In particular, the Joint Funding Committee’s operations are being added to The Bridge, a step requiring CollegiateLink to work on a new database for Carnegie Mellon and other campuses.
Other functions that will be explored in the future, according to Danesh, include the ability to swipe your ID card at an event to be registered as attending; the development of a co-curricular transcript, which would detail involvement in extracurricular activities, leadership positions, on-campus research, and on-campus jobs; and a service hours tracking component, currently being piloted by the Greek community.
Christain said that features are being rolled out in phases both to effectively stress test the system and to receive student feedback on The Bridge’s functionality. “We’re trying to be thoughtful about this,” he said.