Clumsy student digest atrophies under community neglect

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It’s great entertainment for standing in the pasta line. It’s convenient for procrastinating on the 5-page paper due tomorrow. It’s ideal for the long, hard walk to Norris. But it could be so much more.

The student digest, popularly referred to as “the root,” has certainly proved useful for some students, be it as either a source of news or of entertainment. But for many students, the cumbersome and unreliable posting process has rendered the service largely ineffectual.

Instructions for posting are hidden in the depths of the Occidental College website and do not specify how far in advance one needs to send in their message. More explicit details on how and when to post could be included at the bottom of the email to help avoid late posts. This ambiguity can lead to student confusion — in one example, reminders to submit time sheets are frequently posted after the noon deadline. Another way to circumvent uncertainty over dates and times would be to send the digest in the morning, when recipients are able to review upcoming events for the day in advance.

Other common errors include double posts, comments intended for the administrator (e.g. “Please submit to the root. Thanks!”) and un-clickable hyperlinks. As a potentially invaluable resource for students, it is important that the root be given more administrative attention, whether from an Occidental staff member or a student worker. As a positive byproduct of the changes, the administration would create a new job for students seeking work study. Moreover, students interested in design could be hired to make the root more aesthetically pleasing and accessible for students. The responsibility would include reviewing student submissions in detail to avoid duplicates and remove information not pertinent to posts.

To make the root more digestible, this individual should sort submissions into more specific categories, such as “For Sale,” “Fundraisers,” “Housing,” “Club Meetings” or “Speaker Events.” The table of contents could include hyperlinks to direct readers to each section, as well as individual posts.

With these small changes, more students would use the service. As a higher percentage of students begin using the root to share information, community members will be more incentivized to read it. And as the larger number of posts are more intuitively organized, it will be easier for these individuals to read. A few steps, implemented by one individual or shared by several, would better the way information is shared within the campus community.

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