New Website Crowdsources Positive Change for College

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A commitment to improve Dartmouth is more than an abstract notion; it is a specific task with a new crowdsourced website that generates nuts-and-bolts ideas to make life better at the College.

Esteban Castano and Gillian O'Connell

Esteban Castano ’14 and Gillian O’Connell ’15 are the student leaders in charge of the Improve Dartmouth project. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

The Improve Dartmouth project is led by Esteban Castano ’14 and Gillian O’Connell ’15, with support from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences. The project receives funding from the Office of the President.

Students, faculty, staff, and alumni can log on to the site with their NetID and submit ideas, vote on them, and discuss ways to improve Dartmouth. Popular ideas, such as adding electrical outlets to Collis Porch, automatically rise to the top of the list as people vote. An engagement team of student moderators and College staff members provides feedback on the most popular ideas. The site also includes a Q&A forum and a ShoutOut board, in which members can show appreciation for anyone or anything on campus.

Moderators from the student groups Palaeopitus, Student Assembly, and Dartmouth Roots will meet regularly to discuss how student organizations may be able to implement the most popular ideas. In addition, the moderators partner with administrative contacts to comment on the most popular ideas on the site, Castano says.

The site designers hope to highlight the most promising action-oriented ideas, submitted by users under their own names, and connect them to people with direct oversight and the resources to make the proposals happen, Castano says.

“Crowdsourcing paired with user transparency is an enormous tool for innovation. It provides all the benefits of an open forum without the drivel that arises in an anonymous setting,” he says.

“Improve Dartmouth is a unique opportunity for people to connect with a centralized forum where ideas can be presented in a positive, forward-thinking manner,” O’Connell says.

Castano and O’Connell are members of Dartmouth Roots, a new undergraduate organization based in the Rockefeller Center that is dedicated to implementing ideas to make Dartmouth a better place.