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The Daily Tar Heel

Student life struggles to attract users

Despite receiving steady financial support from its target audience, a University website meant to publicize student organizations — studentlife.unc.edu — has yet to gain significant popularity among students.

Tony Patterson, senior associate director for student life and activities for the Carolina Union, said the website, which is funded by student fees, costs $9,500 each year.

The three-year-old site has 739 active organizations and 7,500 involved users, he said.

But Jocelyn Burney, chairwoman of Student Congress’ oversight and advocacy committee, said the website has failed to attracted more students because its interface is too confusing.

“The impression I got from students was that creating and managing yet another online account was a hassle,” she said.

The Union purchased Collegiate Link, the software that supports the website, in 2010.

But when the site was first launched, there weren’t enough Union employees to run it, so it didn’t become available for student use until summer 2011.

Despite the inefficiencies that some have pointed out about the site, Patterson said he still believes the it to be useful one.

“The purchase of the site was an excellent decision by our office for students and student organizations,” Patterson said.

Patterson said the website saves the Union administrative costs associated with the annual recognition process for student organizations. He said the site is the best option to cut those costs.

“There are not comparable alternatives that are less expensive for a campus of our size,” he said.

Student Body President Will Leimenstoll said he is putting together a team to examine the website and make a plan for how it can better fit students’ needs.

Leimenstoll’s team will collaborate with Carolina Union Marketing and Design to relaunch the website at a later date, Patterson said.

But Jagir Patel, co-president of the Campus Y, said his organization takes advantage of the website’s benefits by posting events on the site and using it to try to engage students.

He thinks the website hasn’t garnered more users because it is still relatively new.

“We have used the site to provide student users with a general description of our organization,” he said.

He added that the Campus Y can use the Student Life website to direct students to its own site.

“Not many students are aware of the purpose of the site,” Patel said.

“But I do think it is an amazing resource for new and current students who are looking to get involved.”

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