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Students use new SAO app at Activities Night

| Tuesday, September 2, 2014

At Tuesday night’s annual Student Activities Night hosted by the Student Activities Office (SAO) and the Club Coordination Council (CCC), upperclassmen represented more than 300 groups in the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center, where thousands of students pushed their way through aisles of tables to sign up for extracurricular activities.

“We printed 4,000 handouts and we normally go through nearly all of them,” SAO Program Director Paul Manrique said.

Activities Night Asian American Association shot by Kevin Song

First-year students in particular had a chance to learn more about opportunities on campus and speak to students who share similar interests.

“It’s a little overwhelming, but it’s great that there’s something for everyone,” freshman Sarah Christie said.

In conjunction with the activities fair, SAO also launched its new iPhone app Tuesday. The app, available for free on iTunes, “basically allows students to find and contact clubs from their phones,” CCC Special Interest Division Chair and junior Betel Ali said.

The app offers an “opportunity to browse clubs and organizations on the go at Activities Night or around campus,” according to the its official iTunes description. It invites users to “create your profile, add your favorite clubs and instantly send out emails to organizations to request more info.”

Designed by a student, the SAO app gives students the ability to enter information for their own profiles, including full name, class year and intended major. Users can then search the SAO club database by name or by category to look up specific clubs, which can be added to the student’s “favorites.”

Additionally, the app has a feature that uses Mail, Apple’s email program, to send a pre-written message to clubs. Using the information from the student’s profile, the app drafts an email requesting more information about the club; the student can choose to edit the email or to send it as is.

“Hopefully it’s going to make Activities Night easier,” senior CCC member Joe McNally said. “If you can’t get to a table you’re looking for because it’s too crowded, you can just double tap on the club’s name in the app and find their information.”

Students who used the app said it helped them navigate the hustle and bustle of the fair.

“I wish I’d had the app last year,” sophomore Elle Scott said. “… It would definitely have made Activities Night less overwhelming.”

David Mattingly, Assistant Director of SAO, said the app has been a work in progress for the last two years.

“It wasn’t quite ready yet for last year’s Activities Night, and I wanted to make it usable for more than one night — two hours, really — per year,” he said.

The finished product is a tool Mattingly wants students to use year-round.

“The hope is that if Joe or Sally Student decided in November that they wanted to get involved, they could reach out to the clubs without having to leave their dorm room,” he said. “It empowers student to send notes directly to the club without having to reach out personally.”

Sophomore Mallory Dreyer said the app eliminated the need to fight her way through the perennial crowds in the JACC.

“It was nice to have the app because I didn’t feel that well and didn’t want to walk all the way across campus,” Dreyer said. “… I emailed all the clubs I was interested in before activities fair even started.”

Some students, however, preferred the experience of Activities Night to the app.

“It’s better to get to know the members and see them than to just read about, it’s a more real experience,” freshman Tianyi Tan said.

Other students were disappointed that the app is currently only available for iPhone users.

“I really appreciate the idea of the app,” freshman Anna Levesque said. “I just can’t use it.”

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About Margaret Hynds

Margaret is a senior Political Science major and the former Editor-in-Chief of The Observer. She hails from Washington, D.C., and is a former Phox of Pangborn Hall. Follow Margaret on Twitter @MargaretHynds

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