By Rebecca McSween
It is frustrating to find out about an event days after it has occurred. In the past year, a host of high-profile speakers have visited Fordham: Katie Couric, Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York and Sven Beckert, Harvard Professor and Pulitzer Prize finalist. In each case I have heard friends and professors say: “What? They were here? How did I not know!?” The answer is simple. Despite the abundance of great events at Fordham, members of our community do not currently have access to a comprehensive listing of happenings throughout the university. Though frustrating, this problem is fixable.
Out of 75 universities ranked by U.S. News, Fordham is one of five without a centralized events calendar. There are currently multiple event calendars at Fordham, including OrgSync, Alumni Relations’ Calendar, Gabelli Connect and the Law School’s online listings. Fordham also announces select events through emails called “Today at Fordham Spotlight.”
However, all have their flaws, particularly that they are incomplete and inaccessible to some members of the community. For example, important constituents, including prospective students and donors, cannot get a sense of the wealth of activities offered by the university. A search for “events” on Fordham’s website currently leads to several different web pages, none of which are comprehensive. Other institutions that use 25Live — the university’s space reservation program — such as George Mason University and Chapman University, host university-wide calendars on their websites.
Fortunately, there is a straightforward solution to this issue. University administrators say that creating a university-wide calendar is possible using one of Fordham’s existing calendar systems.
Platforms such as Publisher, 25Live calendar software, are already in use and can be configured to list events on a web page. Each time someone reserves a room using 25Live, he or she has the option to “publish” the event to a university calendar. However, Fordham’s website does not currently host a version of this published calendar on the website.
There is precedent for publishing events to the Fordham website, using 25Live. According to Fordham’s website, the McGinley Center website hosts a list of selected events happening on the Rose Hill campus using the software.
The calendar I am proposing would use the same software, but it would also be easy to find on Fordham’s home page and feature events throughout the university. The page “events.Fordham.edu” is not currently in use, for example, and events could be viewed on this page in a list or monthly view. Furthermore, events could utilize specific tags, such as “Athletics” and “Arts,” which would enable members of the community to locate opportunities of interest to them.
The event postings could also name the groups involved, as well listing any fees associated with attending. Moreover, administrators have mentioned that the calendar could highlight a small number of featured events or could be synchronized with personal calendars hosted on Google and other services. Such a calendar would be a great asset to the Fordham community.
I understand that some have presented alternatives to a centralized events calendar. The Deans’ Councils of Fordham College at Rose Hill and Gabelli School of Business have been working on a platform to aggregate events occurring on campus using social media.
However, in creating a completely new infrastructure, the councils face an uphill battle. I do hope that their initiatives succeed, yet there is also an important step that the Fordham administration can take now.
The administration should link our 25Live calendar system with a page on the Fordham University website so that Fordham can have an all-inclusive events calendar as our peer institutions do. This project is worth prioritizing, although I recognize that Fordham IT and the Office of Communications and Marketing have scarce time and many responsibilities.
Having a single university-wide calendar would reduce the need for individual academic divisions or units within Fordham to keep their own calendars.
Most importantly, this technological upgrade would allow members of the community to engage in events across Fordham’s divisions that are intellectually stimulating and in service of others. By shedding light on this myriad of events, we would underscore the transformative power of a Fordham education to current and future Rams, and no one will miss the next great lecture.
Rebecca McSween, FCRH’16, is an economics major from New York, New York.