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USpeak expands student voice

USpeak is an online platform that enables students to communicate with the administration about university-related topics.

The platform is available to any BJU student, and it can be accessed by logging in to the USpeak page on the BJU Intranet. Once logged in, a student can type and submit ideas, questions, problems and praise anonymously. The platform sends the student’s feedback to the USpeak inbox, where members of the Student Leadership Council review the submissions and take inventory of all requests.

The Student Leadership Council is just trying to have a conversation with the students―USpeak is the single most powerful tool that students have.

The SLC members then respond to the submission within the USpeak platform, and the platform automatically sends an anonymous reply to the student. Students receive a response to their USpeak feedback within three to five business days of the initial submission. Haven Zakaria, the SLC’s social media manager, said the SLC leaders meet with BJU President Steve Pettit every month and inform him of USpeak feedback and ideas that students have submitted. “It’s nice to know your ideas are heard,” she said.

Ian Dyke, the SLC communications director, said the platform was initiated three years ago and has been used ever since. Dyke said the most frequent submission category is ideas and the second most popular is problems. “We get a full range of comments,” he said. But of all the comments the SLC receives, Dyke said the least used topic is praise. “I wish students would leave more praise,” he said. “If you like something on campus and you want to see more of it, praise it!”

Dyke said the SLC welcomes any kind of feedback. Positive comments are just as helpful as negative ones because they allow the SLC to better represent student opinions to the administration.Dyke also said a common misconception is that students think that USpeak is not anonymous because they have to log in with their student ID. He said the reason students have to login with their student IDs is to prevent people who are not BJU students from using USpeak.

He also said the USpeak system prevents the SLC members from seeing the ID information of any student who sends in a submission. He said even when the SLC member sends an email response to the student, he or she still does not see the student’s email address or any other kind of identification.

Dyke explained that this is why every email response from the SLC to a student begins with “Dear BJU Student” and not the student’s name. Tori Conover, women’s student body president, explained the process SLC members go through when responding to a USpeak submission. She said that two members of the SLC are assigned to USpeak every week to keep up with it.

She said some feedback requires the SLC to communicate with members of the administration. In some cases, they forward the message to a member of the department that can best answer the feedback. “We serve as the middle men of communication,” she said.

Conover also stressed the fact that the USpeak platform is completely anonymous. “You login in with your student ID,” she said. “But we don’t see the email address, and we don’t know who the response is going to.”

Zakaria said SLC members read and respond to every single USpeak submission. Zakaria said the platform is a really good way for the administration to hear student ideas. “If you want something to change that is definitely what [USpeak] is there for,” she said. She also said the administration wants to know what kind of change BJU students want to see.

Dyke also shared details on an event called USpeak Kiosk that is taking place later this month. Dyke said tables will be set up around campus, and iPads will be available on the tables for students to submit comments. “We want to target people who have heard of USpeak but haven’t had a one-on-one interaction with it,” Dyke said.

  To go along with this year’s gratitude theme, a few iPads will be set aside at the event for students to only leave praise. Dyke encouraged students to take advantage of USpeak to communicate with the administration. “[The Student Leadership Council] is just trying to have a conversation with the students,’’ he said. “USpeak is the single most powerful tool that students have.’’