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Student Center introduces Owlnest

Illustrated by Yifei Zhang

By Kelly Liao     9/17/19 10:29pm

A new all-in-one online dashboard, Owlnest, designed to coordinate campus events and activities, was introduced at the beginning of the fall semester by the Rice Student Center. 

The system enables Rice students and faculty to manage organization, plan events and track involvements, according to its official website. In the past, students mainly used Facebook or Listservs to get informed about the latest campus events. However, information could be inconsistent between different platforms, according to Grace Wickerson, the president of Student Association.

“By having one system, you can have a clearer picture of what is going on the campus,” Wickerson said. 

Wickerson also mentioned that students who are not on certain mailing lists or in certain Facebook groups may struggle to find organizations and events of their interest. 

Cici Du, a Hanszen College freshman, said that she is eager about the new system.

“As a student who likes to keep up with events but hates the hassle of searching up the various accounts on Facebook, I look forward to having a system that makes everything more organized,” Du said. 

According to the Owlnest website, students can now RSVP and add events to their calendars in just a few clicks, without worrying about losing track of the information.

“When I’m talking with students, the biggest difficulty for clubs is that they have trouble advertising,” Wickerson, a Brown College senior, said. “I hope this system can help them more effectively promote their events among Rice students.”

Elena Margolin, the marketing director of Rice Business Society, said she hopes to be able to streamline the process of publicizing club events to Rice students.

“Instead of events getting tangled up in Facebook's algorithm, RBS and other Rice clubs' events will hopefully be presented in a more clear, organized way,” Margolin, a McMurtry College sophomore, said. 

In addition to student organizations, residential colleges and departments will have homepages and post their activities on the system, according to Wickerson. 

Moreover, the club registration, renewal and election process would be simplified with the help of the system, according to Kristen Ernst, associate director of student engagement. 

“The way to submit registration forms and track their registration status is far more easy now under Owlnest,” Ernst said. “Students no longer need to submit a pile of documents via email and be anxious about if the [Ley] Student Center receives them or not.”

Ernst also said that student organizations can store their data and records on Owlnest, which will allow for smoother leadership transitions.

Allison Yelvington, a Baker College junior, said that getting widespread adoption of Owlnest will likely be a challenge.

“Clubs have entrenched ways of doing things, such as Facebook events and email blasts, so they will need an incentive to adopt a new platform,” Yelvington said.

Ernst said that there will be a series of training sessions for clubs throughout the semester. By the end of October when the club registration process ends, students will be able to explore opportunities and find their niche in the system.

Ernst said she is aware of the incoming challenges and is always open to all kinds of feedback and ideas from students. 

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