Greg learns how to embed a video

June 25, 2007

Hey… you’d never believe it based on how awesome and professional the SCC site looks, but I’m actually new to web-posting… Anyway, I thought that I would take this opportunity to post our new logo design and see if we get any comments.

SCC Logo

OK sweet! That worked. Now, this is my attempt to embed my favorite Youtube Video of all time.

HAHA! I am a golden god! I rule!


Go outside and play

June 15, 2007

Hey all… very few of you should be checking this blog during the summer, but while I will not be in Williamsburg, the SCC is working hard over the summer to improve student life (starting with our website).

Anyway, have a great summer and start checking back in August for more posts!


FlexCar 2.0 and Facebook

May 6, 2007

Long time no blog. Sorry :(

So.. FlexCar. I already mentioned it during the Student Assembly elections, but now that the campaign is over I wanted to refocus on this issue.

I remember when I was a freshman and had little mobility or change to get off campus. True, adversity makes for great bonding with your hallmates, but it also makes doing things like grocery shopping or picking up a prescription from CVS nigh impossible. To restate the obvious, only juniors and seniors are allowed to have cars on campus- in general freshmen and sophomores must rely on the bus system or just hoof it to wherever they want to go somewhere.

So yeah, FlexCar is a private company based out of Seattle that provides a progressive way to get around town that saves time, money and even the environment. Several colleges have already brought FlexCar to campus WITH NO OTHER COST THAN PROVIDING PARKING SPACES, and are quite happy with the result.

Here’s the catch: The cost of the program per individual who wants to take part in it is this:

1) Pay a $35.00 initiation fee

2) Every hour using FlexCar is a flat fee (generally $8-10 or $50.00) per day.

Check out an example of other universities experience with FlexCare here.

On another interesting note, two weeks ago I decided to experiment with Facebook by creating a group called ‘WM Students for FlexCar’ in order to gauge the level of support there is in the student body for such an initiative.

I was truly impressed by the response. 250 people as of late Saturday night is terrific, especially given that I initially invited a few people who I thought would either be a) interested or b) owed me favors. At best, I have met 40% of the people in this group, meaning that the remained was invited by interested students.

So… many thanks to everyone who joined- seeing the high level of support has vindicated a lot of the work that the SCC has undertaken on behalf of students. Seriously, it means a lot to us.

During the summer the SCC will be setting up talks with FlexCar Corporation and we hope to have some movement by Fall 2007.  Keep checking back for more info.


SCC Survey Draft

April 16, 2007

In the spirit of making the SCC a new model for student advocacy, we’re going open-source and asking for your help with one of our most important initiatives.

Haven’t closed the window yet? Great. Read the following background info.

In 2005, the College hired a consulting firm called the Wessex Group to put together a survey to find out where and what students were spending money on. After crafting the questions, the Wessex Group sent it out to every student at the College. 31% of students responded and some really interesting info was gathered.

For instance, students with regular access to a car on campus spent twice as much as students who did not. While students with cars have more buying power, it also must be noted that juniors and seniors spend twice as much as freshmen and sophomores. THIS cannot be simply explained by disparities in buying power.

Quite simply, the results indicate that when students have access to more selection (restaurants, shops, movies etc) they spend MORE than when they are stuck on campus.

Groundbreaking, I know. Back to asking for your help.

Before the semester is over, we intend to send our own variation on Student Life web survey to the ENTIRE student body and begin providing a yearly measurement of the student body’s views on social venues in Williamsburg, what locations students consider within walking distance, and where the College needs to focus effort to improve student life.

But before we go ahead with this, we need to make sure we’ve asked all the right questions. Go ahead and check out the latest draft of the survey.

I’d really appreciate comments or suggestions. Please mail me at gcooperzero@gmail.com or on AIM at gcooperzero.


SCC Fundraising

April 12, 2007

OK, so first off I’d like to apologize for not blogging sooner…

Two words: Food Poisoning. (U.C. Caf food, if you cared to know)

Anyway, we’ve made a lot of progress putting the SCC together… Kudos to Joe Lahouchuc for keeping it all together.

So, let’s talk about one of the immediate hurdles facing the SCC –> $$$. Putting together the SCC for Freshman next fall, Rating and Reviewing Local Area Businesses, not to mention our new media secret project- all of these initiatives require funding.

Well… there is always the obvious method of raising funds for a Student Activities- Submit a budget from Mark Constantine and WM Office of Student Activities (we already missed THAT deadline, so forget it.)

I’ll go ahead and list some of the standard alternative ways that SOs raise money:

1) Beg College Departments for money they don’t have.

2) Bake Sale in front of the UC (poor choice, as my cooking would probably cause another case of food poisoning)

3) Campus-wide fund-raising event of some sort.

SCC is a whole new kind of student advocacy, and that means we need to be innovative in getting funding. In a couple days we’re going to have a brand spanking new website, and perhaps we should look at a more online fund-raising strategy?

Ideas?


Interlude: Facebook Messaging

April 4, 2007

In his article‘Go with the Flow… but not just any Flow”, Valdis Krebs proposes an interesting take on social networking and media: Metcalf’s Law- the value of a network is proportional to the number of nodes on the network- is dead.

Instead, he puts forward a different theory- the inverse law of media transmission theory- “the easier it is for you to send a message, the hard it is for you to get my attention”. This has a great deal of relevance in that it suggests that the size of a network is not necessarily an indication concerning the potential for making friends and influencing people (or convincing them to vote for your candidate).

Practical application of the inverse law of media transmission:

Facebook Group Messages.

For the three years that I’ve used Facebook, I’ve received a relatively low number of messages compared with e-mail or IM. Each time I saw that I had a new message I would open it immediately as I knew it came from a friend and 90% of the tie would have some content to the message.

Then, about a semester ago I started noticing that Facebook events started having the capacity to message my account. Now, my inbox is flooded with events, campaign ads, etc. From one candidate I received no less than five reminders to vote within a space of 24 hours!

Hence, I now check my Facebook message account less and less frequently until the point where I pay little attention to the medium.  While unfortunate (I liked having a Facebook messages) it also demonstrates how a once highly valued medium degenerated with greater use.

 


Interlude: Advocacy and the Internet

April 1, 2007

For a long time, advocating student concerns to the City of Williamsburg has been a difficult task, with high town-gown tensions on issues ranging from the construction of dormitories to off-campus house rentals, not to mention student voting rights.

Tonight’s topic is on how to more effectively advocate student life issues to the city.

Having met with Mayor Zeidler and the Williamsburg Economic Development Manager Michelle DeWitt at the City/College Forum last week, I believe that the City would be genuinely interested in figuring out how to bring profitable businesses that target students to Williamsburg- they are very anxious to stem the drain of businesses from the City into New Town.

So… how can students more effectively advocate?

Facebook

As crazy as it sounds, Facebook is a powerful yet largely unused tool in shaping the direction of advocacy with the City. With the entire student body ‘wired’, many of whom check their Facebook accounts 3-4 times a day, social networks such as Facebook and MySpace have great potential for vocalizing student opinions.

Already we have seen one example on online network advocacy- The Defense of Nightlife Act by Senators Zach Pilchen and Victor Sulkowski.

When news spread that the College Delly was going to be purchased by Starbucks, the Defense of Nightlife Act was passed in the SA and a petition was created to express disapproval of the deal.

So… while the petition may have been signed by the SA and their immediate friends, it never would have had the impact that it did except that it was linked to two recently created Facebook groups- Save the College Delly and the less subtle Not Another Motherfucking Starbucks. Instead of hundreds, over 1,500 students signed the petition, which gained notice from the local press, the College Delly, and Starbucks.

Did this work, and if so, why?

Well… Dean Tsoumorias was quoted in the Flat Hat as mentioning that his decision on whether to sell the business to Starbucks was complicated by the petitions from students, which gave him cause to reconsider. While the College Delly still might not last until 2008, the petition clearly articulated students preferences- a feat that usually is reserved for referendums during SA election season.

Colin Delany wrote about the power of social networking sites in his paper Social Media that the power of advocacy on websites such as Facebook and MySpace comes from a ‘network effect’- where the more people that sign up, the more useful the group. If either of the Facebook groups only had 40+ users, the impact of the group would be limited at best. Another way of looking at the situation is by considering Reed’s Law- the value of a network is intensely more powerful if you can form groups within the network. Information can be easily shared by the group through use of ‘Message All’ features within the Facebook programs. When new information developed, or a certain number of signatures were acquired, messages would be sent out and students would post on the Facebook wall.

As predicted by Reed’s Law, each individual that joined the two Facebook groups were able to exert more pressure on the College Delly and Starbucks than possible on an individual level. In the future, Facebook groups may serve as a new form of referendum on rising issues relating to student life. Rather than advocacy being the responsibility of a few individuals, the entire student body can use the internet to find their own voice.


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