1/30/03 – UMB Gets Its Own Community Front Page

Gin Dumcius

Hidden away by the exit that leads to the bus stop, on the lower levels of the Quinn Administration building, is the Customer Service Center. The thick, heavy door opens to reveal a reception area, with a small walkway crowded by filing cabinets and the front desk. Towards the end stands an office, occupied by Martha Kelly, supervisor and data analyst for the Customer Service Center.

It’s from there that an e-mail, informing students of updates to the UMB Community Front Page, is sent out daily, and has been since early January. And it’s from there that the UMB Community Front Page is maintained.

The UMB Community Front Page was “created in response to requests from faculty, staff, students, and alumni,” a memo from the Customer Service Center announced January 6. It’s “interactive,” and “your forum and link to what’s happening at UMB.”

According to Ms. Kelly, it was an idea that came out of the Administration and Finance Office. The Administration and Finance Office has a broadcast system that people can use to advertise. “When there’s something that impacts the entire university, this is the system that they use,” she said, pointing to a message regarding opening the lower level garage. “But people started to send out e-mails like, ‘I would like to post this activity that I’m having,’ and then they said no, because this is not going to impact the entire the university, or people were saying ‘I am selling something and I would like to send out a message,’ and they said no, this doesn’t apply.” They decided to create forum where people can advertise things that don’t necessarily affect the entire university, and the Front Page was born.

The site itself is clean, without the clutter and busy bustle that characterizes many websites these days.

Navigate to the Classified section and you will find people hawking everything from an espresso/cappuccino maker (“Braun machine, perfect condition $10 or best offer”) to American Girl Doll Clothes (“…new Handmade outfits for sale: $4-10 for dresses fur hat and muff set, pant suits, doll quilts and more…”), to a free refrigerator (“…early 1950’s Crosley Shelvadoor refrigerator. It ran until we unplugged it two months ago for house renovations. No rust, but finish is worn. Great for collector, second fridge or retro kitchen. Also old Kelvinator in cellar of same vintage. Don’t know if it runs. You haul…”). One-third of the classified ads are books for sale, covering many classes, from political science to Greek history and archeology.

Click on the Notice section, and you will find postings letting you know about a Beginning of Semester Party, the Career Networks Mentoring Program, and the 20th Anniversary of the Interfaith Campus Ministry.

“The UMB Community Front Page is designed to broadcast events, offer classified advertisements, and become the online connection to campus resources. To submit requests, complete request form or call 7-4000 or fax 7-4010. Requests for next day broadcast must be submitted by 3:00 PM. Classified ads may be placed for a period of two weeks,” states the Policy page. The only restriction is that you must be UMB faculty, staff, or a student, or alumnus with a university e-mail address. They also ask that the message have something to do with the community, to not advocate violence, no obscenity or pornography, or “extremely bad grammar.”

The website is updated every day, and more people are getting trained.

The web address is: http://csc.umb.edu/Community_FrontPage.htm. The Customer Service Center can be contacted at 7-4000, or e-mailed at [email protected].