Since the launch of Improve Dartmouth, a crowdsourced website that allows members of the Dartmouth community to discuss ways to improve life at the College, there have been at least 4,200 reported users, 300 suggestions, 700 comments, and more than 35,000 votes.
“As student moderators, we create a ‘Priority List’ of 15 ideas that we commit to forward to students organizations or administrators, included in our biweekly report to President Hanlon, and track until they are complete,” says Esteban Castano ’14, co-leader of the Improve Dartmouth site.
“Currently, the most popular idea on the website is ‘Adopt a Zero-Tolerance Policy for Sexual Assault,’ submitted by Callista Womick ’13. This idea addresses a major and complex issue on campus in a way that is simple, tangible, and straightforward,” says Castano.
Other ideas on the site include letting unused dining money roll over for use on the next term’s meal plan, invest in a better printing system, and improve mental health care at Dick’s House, Dartmouth’s health service center.
For Gillian O’Connell ’15, Castano’s partner on this project, the content on the site that is most inspiring is “not necessarily specific ideas, but rather the clarification and evolution of ideas that occur through conversation in each post’s comment section.”
For example, says O’Connell, “‘Adopt a Zero-Tolerance Policy for Sexual Assault’ has an excellent discussion between students, faculty, and staff regarding where our Sexual Assault Policy stands at the moment and what updates are on the horizon.”
As student moderators, Castano and O’Connell are currently working on creating Improve Dartmouth focus groups. These groups will consist of students, staff, alumni, and faculty that are committed to taking a certain idea, and following it through until completion.
“On a day-to-day basis, I’ve been thrilled with the number of people I see simply surfing the site, engaging via ‘liking,’ ‘disliking,’ or comments, and assessing ideas,” says O’Connell.
“We have a large student user base, and each class is represented well. As we move forward, we are excited to present Improve Dartmouth to various faculty and alumni groups, and continue to grow its presence in the future.”