A new platform for students

Presence is a platform that student orgs use for attendance, event notifications and many other features. Patrick Haught was the forerunner of this program coming to campus.

Eliza Hagstrom, variety editor

Presence is a platform for student orgs on university campuses to utilize for a variety of different things. Assistant Director of Student Activities & Leadership Development Patrick Haught has been trying to get an engagement platform started on campus since he was hired in March 2019. Roughly a year and a half ago, he got the green light to start searching for a platform for Hamline to use. 

“[It is an] one-stop-shop for student involvement,” Haught said, describing what Presence is at its core. 

Many students referred to Presence as being ‘like canvas but for student orgs.’ Which is an easy way to refer to something new for students. 

“[This is a] fair description for those unfamiliar with it but they perform very different functions,” Haught said. 

Now, why choose Presence over other student engagement platforms? The process of finding the right platform for Hamline began in fall 2020, where companies gave a request for proposal (RFP) to Haught and Patti Kersten, the Vice president of Student Affairs and Dean of Students. The companies would pitch their platforms’ capabilities and price points for Hamline. 

“Presence is the hottest one, schools are switching to it at a very rapid rate,” Haught said. “Their entire team is made of former student affairs workers and their customer service is exceptional due to this.” 

The entire staff being former student affairs makes working with them much easier. They know what campuses need and why they would want certain functions, no explanations are necessary. 

The functions Presence performs that Hamline currently uses are an event calendar for student organizations to have so that other students know what is happening and where. As opposed to the orgs being only on the Hamline website, with Presence students are able to change their organization’s information on their own. 

This means that usually all of the executive board member information is correct and the organization is able to make sure everything is spelled accurately. Before organizations had to wait for these changes to be made by Hamline. 

Another helpful aspect in the time of COVID-19 is the attendance feature that orgs can use at their events. 

“If the event[’s] host takes good attendance,” Haught said. “Then if an exposure is known [they] can easily report this to the Covid team.” 

In order to take attendance at an event an org only needs to scan someone’s Hamline ID or enter in their ID number. They are able to scan with their phones so anyone is able to take attendance at any event that their org hosts. 

With this school year being the first year that Hamline is using Presence and the first time that the campus has ever had a platform for student involvement Haught was anxious to see how students would react. 

“[I am] Really grateful that people have embraced it as much as they have,” Haught said.