Get together on the information superhighway

Bringing students together can be a great help to a commuter school like the U. But some students don’t like to spend a lot of time on campus. Few realize that through the Internet, however, students may now connect with one another, having not spent any time on our campus.

Both The Face Book Web site-which recently added the U to its list of schools-and ASUU’s Web hosting services have the potential to bring students together in ways that were never before possible. Students can even connect with other students at different schools.

The Face Book, at www.thefacebook.com, is a self-described “online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges and universities.” The Face Book is like a student directory. While the official U directory faces privacy challenges online because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), voluntary directories do not. FERPA allows students to withhold contact information from the public directory, limiting its usefulness.

It’s a perfect remedy to the U’s commuter-campus problems. It is independent and voluntary, and does not need to worry about privacy laws.

The Web site also allows students to post pictures and talk about themselves. It is a social networking site, where you can add friends, create groups and interact via messaging.

You can even add friends at other universities and search for new friends at the U. In theory, you make connections, friends and perhaps even a lover or two.

One concern of online communities is that they would foster more of a commuter campus, keeping students away more often.

However, this is simply not the case. The online communities will facilitate bringing students to campus. Online communities will bring together students from all areas serviced by the U. These communities increase the number of relationships on campus, which can directly influence attendance at campus events.

The students making these relationships have one major thing in common: the U. Organizations could bring these students to campus by providing events such as Crimson Nights, which would provide a great opportunity for these new friends to get together in a good, safe environment.

If ASUU and other campus organizations play their cards right, these online communities could be a major boon for attendance to student activities.

Another use for connecting over the Internet is to facilitate these student groups.

ASUU provides free Web space, through its www.ustudents.com Web site, to any student organization at the U because communication and easy access to information are keys in keeping a group of people together. If one has taken advantage of this connectivity, these Web sites can make information about clubs easier to find.

Members of student groups can keep up-to-date on club events and activities. Easy access to club information also makes it easier for potential members to get involved. They have a one-stop shop for browsing groups and determining where they fit best. And if student groups become Internet savvy, they can spread out their base of support in ways that can bring more people together in real-space.

The Face Book and ASUU Web hosting are only the brim of options when it comes to online communities. Fund-raising outlets by student groups may be potentially used for these Web sites.

Online shopping is huge, and student organizations could benefit greatly by having any sort of Web presence allowing people to donate on shopping sites. Amazon and PayPal, for example, allow organizations to accept donations from their Web sites.

The possibilities are endless for student groups, if they simply take advantage of this outlet.

Students, clubs and other campus organizations should take advantage of these free online services.

The Web provides many advantages for anyone willing to put in the small amount of effort required to create a community.

Once a community exists online, it is easier to strengthen here on campus.The U benefits as a whole when students expand their relationships outside of normal boundaries, and when student groups communicate more efficiently.

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