SA officially launched and announced the beta version of IMPACT, a petition site “for students by students,” on Tuesday, Feb. 24. SA President’s Cabinet member and senior Ryan Puffer coded the site and Technology & Web Coordinator Sarah Hedrych designed it and will serve to guide future teams of students in maintaining the site.

Once students log in with their netIDs at sa.rochester.edu/impact, they can create, sign and comment on petitions. Students cannot edit or delete petitions once they create them, and their names are attached to any of their petitions or comments.

SA President and senior Antoinette Esce explained that when a petition reaches 100 signatures, “We’ll start looking into it, we’ll start posting updates and alerts on that petition from the site; that might mean I just meet with the person who posted it, it might mean that it comes up in the Senate conversation, we might pass a resolution, maybe I put something on the [University] President’s desk.” The more signatures a petition has, she said, “the more power we can put behind it to really try to advocate for change.”

SA Vice President and junior David Stark added that even before a petition reaches 100 signatures, “anything on there is going to inform what we do as an organization or show that people are interested in a certain topic.”

“It’s also not necessarily the case that everything on there will be actionable in an advocacy sense right now, but it informs a larger understanding on what students want on the University of Rochester campus,” he said.

IMPACT also serves as a way for students to give feedback to departments like Dining, IT and ResLife. The category tags on the site mean that department members can easily view student feedback, potentially informing their daily decisions. All department members have NetIDs and will be able to participate in the conversations on the petition site if they wish.

Esce and Stark noted that students often post about problems on campus and give feedback on the Facebook page Overheard at Rochester, which they said is not ideal for formal discussion because of its many uses and its organization. Additionally, they observed that administrators do not feel comfortable going on there since it is a social space, so reported problems may not reach the people who can fix them. Thus, according to Esce and Stark, IMPACT will provide a more accessible forum for feedback for students and administrators.

Esce and Stark originally brought up creating up-to-date feedback mechanisms for students in their election platform last spring and began working on the petition site over the summer. The idea came out of a desire to lower the barrier between SA and students, and its implementation was partially inspired by Rochester Institute of Technology’s petition site PawPrints.

Lai is a member of the class of 2018.



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