Geneseo Speaks promotes communication between students, student government

The new website Geneseo Speaks was launched by the Student Association in February. The website allows students to submit their own petitions, which the student government can examine. Geneseo Speaks was established in order to provide a platform for students to become more engaged with their student government. (Courtesy of David Irwin)

The Student Association launched the Geneseo Speaks website at the end of February, in which students can submit petitions for the student government to address. Website usage has so far been low.  

Any student with a Geneseo username and password can create a petition through the website. If the petition receives enough signatures from other students, it will be sent to the newly established Student Senate, according to SA President senior Michael Baranowski. If the measure passes the Student Senate, it moves to the SA Executive Committee, which votes on the measure after a two-week reading. 

Baranowski said he believes that Speaks will function as a method for students, the student government and the administration to communicate about student interest issues.  

“If they have an issue, it serves as a way for them to present their issues and hear what other student opinions are about it,” he said. “It’s supposed to centralize advocacy for students, which they can turn to and where they can start to rely on their student government. It can be anything that students want it to be.” 

The site was originally created by students at the Rochester Institute of Technology, according to SA Director of Public Relations senior Thomas Magnus. Since the software was open sourced, Computing & Information Technology modified the program to create Geneseo Speaks, and the website was launched on Friday Feb. 28. 

Geneseo Speaks has two open petitions and four recognized petitions on its website as of Wednesday April 5. The relatively few responses from the college community has been noticed by SA as one flaw of the website thus far. 

“The petitions that are up are really possible, but also incredibly meaningful,” Magnus said. “I do feel like we’re not at as high a level of involvement as we’d want yet, but that’s totally natural because it needs to be marketed some more before the whole campus knows about it.” 

Magnus said that he accepted that the lack of usage may have been caused by a lack of a public relations campaign.

“CIT crushed it, but I think that I could’ve marketed it better,” he said. “I really should have had a campaign locked and loaded after the launch to capitalize on all the people [who came to the launch]. Everyone else has been great; the issue’s on me.”

Physics major sophomore Barak Stockler was one of the six students who submitted petitions to Geneseo Speaks and will be replacing Magnus next year on SA. He believes that he will be able to slowly increase usage numbers through increased promotion.

“Right now, the signature counts are around 50 or 60 for the top ones and with 5,000 students on campus, those numbers should be in the hundreds,” he said. “I just want to keep putting more and more petitions up until everyone is using it. My goal is to give it as much exposure as possible and I have some ideas for next year on how to do that.”

SA Director of Business Affairs senior Patricia Galan, who also submitted one of the six petitions, echoed the notion that the website will serve as a bridge between the students and the broader college community. 

“It could really connect students and the administration in a whole new manner that I think we haven’t seen yet,” she said. “I really hope there’s an excitement by the students to use it and I really hope that it becomes more recognized by the student body to check it out, use it and have it on their radar.”