Launched at the beginning of the fall semester, USpeak allows students to anonymously give an idea, ask a question, report a problem, offer praise and participate in multiple online polls about campus issues.
USpeak serves as the communication portal between students and the administration. Students can access the online resource through the link on the intranet or directly at uspeak.bju.edu.
All student feedback is seen by a member of the Student Leadership Council before being compiled and presented to President Steve Pettit and Dr. Eric Newton, dean of students.
The USpeak homepage promises that an SLC representative will respond to each submission within 48 hours.
USpeak originated as an idea for a class project.
Former SLC representative Daniel Herr is partially responsible for presenting the idea to Dr. Pettit.
Herr along with other SLC members worked with Student Life and IT to prepare the idea for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Herr said USpeak gives university students the same platform he enjoyed as an SLC representative.
“[The student body] is now in the room with us when we’re talking to Dr. Pettit, essentially,” Herr said.
The student body embraced USpeak last semester with thousands of online submissions.
“The SLC was blown away by how much use [USpeak] got,” said Emily Weier, student body president.
“We thought it was a great platform and a great opportunity, but I did not expect the volume it was going to get.”
Originally after being vetted through the SLC, feedback from USpeak was sent to Newton since many submissions involved student life on campus. But President Pettit personally asked to see every submission as well.
Student body presidents Weier and Nate Hudson now compile student feedback to discuss in a meeting with Pettit and Newton each month.
One of the most used of USpeak’s capacities is the ability to submit ideas. Students can submit ideas that they believe are worthy of consideration by the administration.
Some particularly good ideas, or ideas that are frequently submitted, become online polls that other students can up-vote or down-vote. Ideas that receive a significant number of up-votes are further considered.
At present, students are participating in eight online polls, including votes to install printers in the residence halls, refurbish the tennis courts and replace the sand in the outdoor volleyball courts.
Up-votes on the polls for Rubi café vending machines (like the one in the library) and for locks on residence hall rooms have triggered the administration to further research the advantages and cost of both projects.
Similarly, students voiced their idea on USpeak to extend the wifi hours for upperclassmen which led Pettit to finalize plans with IT. Now upperclassmen can enjoy prolonged wifi usage.
Hudson said the changes brought about by USpeak evidence a needed shift towards better understanding and communication between the BJU student body and the administration.
He described USpeak as an appropriate and effective way for students to express their needs and ideas.
Student Leadership and Organizations Coordinator Matthew Weathers echoed Hudson’s sentiments.
“We want your feedback,” Weathers said.
“[USpeak] is a student platform: students bring ideas to the administration. I want to see the increase of quantity and quality of ideas and feedback,” he said.