College explores alternatives as KnightLink contract nears expiration

KnightLink, an online service that hosts pages for every Geneseo student organization and provides online forms and purchase orders has a contract with the Student Association that will end after the spring 2014 semester. Coordinator of Student Programs and Activities Tiffany Brodner oversees KnightLink and said that students find it to be a valuable resource, due to its year-round availability and accessibility.

“KnightLink is like the [Student Organization Expo] in one place, online, all year long,” Brodner said. “It’s a database of all the organizations on campus … and it’s really kind of that one place that students can look to for information on student [organizations].”

Brodner said that the Department of Student Life has worked with SA in the past to make forms easier for both organizations and students. The consolidated travel form is one example.

“We’ve actually collaborated with SA to combine two forms into one process to make it easier on the students,” she added.

While KnightLink has allowed Student Life and SA to streamline and digitize processes, it is not beholden to the service. In fact, Director of Student Life Chip Matthews said that pursuing other avenues is the duty of the school to ensure students receive the best services possible.

“I think we have to, you know, do our due diligence. We have to look at how are we best meeting student need. And is KnightLink the best outlet for that, or is something else?” Matthews said.

The contract is maxed at three years, which both Brodner and Matthews viewed as a benefit.

“I don’t think re-evaluating every three years is a bad thing. I think every year would be onerous on people, I think every three years allows us to not get locked into anything,” Matthews said. Brodner continued the sentiment, adding that it also allows the school to stay in touch and up to date with students.

Matthews explained that KnightLink came to the school through a graduate assistant whose task was to seek out services that would make organizing and promoting student organizations easier. CollegiateLink, the program that hosts KnightLink, was the best option then, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is now.

“You constantly have to be evaluating and asking if this is still the best application for us; how can we tweak it, how can we make it better? Or is there something else out there,” Matthews said. “I think, that being said, a lot of work has gone into KnightLink – not just on the part of the Student Association but also student organizations.”

Brodner said SA, Student Life and student organizations have all put in an immense amount of work into making KnightLink the student tool that it is today. Starting with a new service and provider could potentially set back these organizations.

“It’s very populated,” Brodner said. “Organizations have plugged in all their information that makes sense for them.”

One feature going unused on KnightLink is the purchase order system. Campus Auxiliary Services and SA already have a working process for how SA distributes money, and trying to incorporate KnightLink caused some issues.

Matthews explained that the service is covered under the current contract; however, it isn’t being used.

“It’s one of things that never went into play. So that’s something that is being paid for but never being utilized,” he said. “We would go without that in the future.”

Matthews realizes that looking forward and anticipating the needs of students in the future affects the decision of staying with the current provider.

“I think some of the challenges are that we need to look at how to best meet student needs. However, sometimes something isn’t a need until it’s a need,” he said.