By Alexandra Feldhausen, Larissa Connett, Paulina Plata, and Julia Chung (and Dani Heard and Elvina Fan who were part of the one email process)
Have you all seen the one email to rule them all yet? It’s one email with all of the events for the week. It’s what we have all been needing, pushing for, and finally, it’s here. The Morningside Post sat down, virtually, with the ladies that made it all happen. Here is their story:
How did you get started on this project?
Larissa: When Elvina and I were elected as Comms Chairs for SIPASA, we discussed the possibility of bringing all the student org. comms chairs together to streamline communication to ease the burden on SIPA students. We were tossing around a few ideas and were put in contact with a group of students (Dani, Paulina, and Julia) who were working on a platform that would streamline communication and be more user-friendly. We offered to take on the execution of the platform and instituting it as a job duty for SIPASA Comms Chairs in the future.
What made you come to this current iteration of “one email”?
Paulina: Our Civic Innovation and Building a People Centered Government class inspired us to come up with a solution to the communications challenge at SIPA. Through human-centered design we interviewed a diversified group of students within and outside of SIPA to gauge their thoughts on the student events communication process, their level of satisfaction, and how it could be improved. So to answer shortly, it was each and every one of you who came to this current iteration of the “one email”. We simply brought all of your wants and desires together and brainstormed a solution that would would be most effective and make everyone happy.
A lot of students saw that the lack of streamlined communications was a problem, but only you all decided to really do something about it. What do you think motivated you try to change it?
Larissa: SIPASA is a unique student org in the sense that we are students, elected by our peers, to serve our peers. We understand what it means to be both a student org leader and a full-time student, trying to manage the mounds of work, student activities, etc. It made sense that we would explore solutions that would make life at SIPA easier for students and student leaders so that we could all maximize our time here. A communications platform developed by students, for students, makes sense and would be better than a traditional top-down approach.
Julia: For our final project Dani, Paulina, and I agreed that we wanted to work on something that was feasible, useful, and could be “solved” in a relatively short-timeline. But when we were in the finding process and talking to students about their experiences, we realized that there was a real possibility of actually having our prototype implemented. That was a huge motivating factor. And once we figured out how to configure the one calendar, got connected with Larissa, and decided on the launch date we were just on a roll.
What challenges did you encounter along the way?
Paulina: Our biggest challenge was ensuring that the change we thought SIPA needed with regards to communication, was what everyone truly wanted. Our class all had similar solutions to the communications challenge, but that didn’t necessarily mean it was reflective of the student body’s opinion. It wouldn’t be human-centered design if we created a prototype that displayed only what we thought was best, as oftentimes we see organizations do. We wanted the calendar and one email to truly be student owned so we decided we would start with having only student organizations add to it.
What advice do you have for students that would like to change things at SIPA, but don’t know where to start?
Julia: Talk to as many people as possible at all levels and keep checking back in. Our decisions often were guided by the people we spoke to. In order to make the final product work the best it could we had to constantly touch base with SIPASA and regular students to make sure the calendar and the process was efficient and intuitive. For example, we heard and knew there would be barriers if we wanted to implement institutional and bureaucratic changes and so decided to go down a student-led route. Once making that decision, the “how” seemed clearer. Also we kept checking in with Larissa to make sure that the process we thought of would actually work with the Communication Chairs.
So there you have it. If you see a problem, change it, and if you like the one email, make sure to reach out to these lovely women that made it happen.