March 14, 2002

Freshmen Design Custom Website for Class of 2005

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Freshmen now have a new way to communicate with their peers and receive University information via the Internet. A collaboration between students and the administration has created a customized Cornell website specifically for freshmen, The website will allow freshmen students to have a personalized forum to discuss issues and to help acclimate them to college life.

“We contacted [the administration], because in order to use the Cornell name, you have to go through a process to use the name,” said Marisa Piliero ’96, project coordinator for student and academic services. “Instead of stopping the site, we decided to work with them to make a website through Cornell. We partnered with them when they got to campus.”

Freshmen can log onto the website from computers with Kerberos authentication by using their NetID and password. They then can find information from services such as Cornell Dining and Cornell Career Services. Students can also find information on their class council and Gannett: Cornell University Health Services.

The site includes links for students to make their own personal profiles and to join chat rooms. They can change the preferences of the site to fit their own needs, find out about campus events and receive advice from columns. There is a section entitled “Peer Institutions,” where freshmen can learn about freshmen experiences at other colleges. Currently, there is an interview on the site from a Vassar College student.

“There’s news and events, things that are pertinent to freshmen,” Piliero said.

The Class of 2005 website was the brainchild of three freshmen, who developed the original site over the summer. They met each other online, and two of the original team are still working on the project.

“[We] tossed around ideas about a website,” said Eric Grysko ’05, a member of the Class of 2005 student design team. “I essentially started to design the site and knowledge of the site spread by word-of-mouth. We wanted to get more publicity, and we contacted Cornell.”

Grysko commented that when the University responded, officials “liked the idea, and there were some copyright issues.”

The student design team sent surveys to the freshmen in October to obtain feedback on what the new, revised website should include. With these responses, the students constructed a revised website and the site was made available on Feb. 25.

“I think that [the website] is great,” said Adam Berlinsky-Schine ’05, a member of the student design team. “It’s a good bridge with the administration to get information to the freshmen.”

Another member of the student design team commented on what the website could offer to freshmen: “I think that it’s a good opportunity for students to meet each other,” said Charles Bradley ’05. “It’s only as good as the students who use it. I think that it has the potential to be a great tool.”

There are plans to create websites for each incoming class to help them become better acquainted with Cornell and college life.

“Over the summer we will start a 2006 site. The [Class of 2005 website] will move to be an alumni network so that [students] can keep in contact after they graduate from Cornell,” Piliero said.

According to Piliero, websites will not be created for the Class of 2003 or the Class of 2004. She mentioned that all classes will be able to log into a website being constructed for the CU Tonight Commission, which specializes in late-night entertainment events on campus.

Many freshmen like the idea of having a customized website.

“[The website] is cool,” said Lauren Lesch ’05. “It looks like it’ll be useful, it’s a little more personalized than the official Cornell website. The only problem is not a lot of students know about it.”

Lesch commented that the website would be a useful tool for keeping in touch with activities such as student council elections.

As students learn more about the website, members of the student design team hope that the popularity of the site will increase.

“I think that generally with the [website] idea, people are warming up to it. It’s hard to start the site mid-second semester,” Grysko said. “Once users start using the site, they use it more consistently. I think the idea works really well.”

Archived article by Kelly Samuels