A calming “Presence” for student orgs

The campus engagement platform Presence launches at Hamline.

Kelly Holm, Senior Reporter

In previous times, when leaders of a student organization wanted to update information about their group, they would often have to turn to outside sources to edit the student organization directory. Now, with the launch of the campus engagement platform Presence at Hamline, student orgs will be able to update their own online profiles and pages, and independently market their events.

“[Presence] is meant to provide college students with a one-stop shop for events, activities and involvement opportunities,” said Patrick Haught, assistant director of Student Activities and Leadership Development. “It’s not a conferencing or a messaging platform, it’s a dashboard for students. It’s an event calendar, a student organization directory and sort of a form library. It’s like Canvas, but for student life.”

Ever since Haught was hired at Hamline two years ago, he had been working on negotiating a contract between Presence and the university. Having launched it during his previous position at the U of M, he felt that it was a beneficial program for increasing the accessibility of campus involvement to students. 

While going through the interview process at Hamline, Haught sensed that students wanted more control over the maintenance of their orgs’ online presence — something that he feels is especially relevant during COVID-19.

“When you’re on campus, usually you’re seeing posters and you’re seeing tabling and you’re inundated with promotion of things,” Haught said. “This school year, [Presence] has been especially helpful, because it really allows for a kind of promotion of virtual events and opportunities. For students that are [attending Hamline] from home, it gives them a one-stop shop.”

Recently, Haught directed two training sessions regarding the ins and outs of Presence, which he said were attended by about three dozen student org leaders, including sophomore Ryan Geiss, the vice president of Spectrum.

“We plan to use [Presence] as another way to get our event information out to our community,” Geiss said. “It will be one place where someone can simply quick-scan our page and see all of our upcoming events.”

A yet-to-be-implemented feature of Presence that Haught hopes to launch in the near future? Card-swiping.

“Groups that create events in Presence can swipe people’s cards at the event, and it’ll track how many people were there and who the attendees were, so that organizations can send out surveys,” Haught said.

If students have questions regarding Presence, Haught can be reached at phaught01@hamline.edu