New and improved system to change the way students reserve space

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Event-planning Swatties, faculty and staff who once viewed space reservation as their biggest challenge, can now look forward to “a new and much more efficient space reservation system” that comes out today.

For two weeks the Facilities Management Department took down the Events Listing site and worked hard to develop Virtual EMS (Event Management Systems), whose biggest changes include a listing of all reserved spaces and therefore conflicts that may be avoided, and more room to submit specific requests.

Virtual EMS will allow students, faculty and staff to browse all campus events, including classes, for specific dates and times. Facilities Coordinator Barbara Tumolo compares it to an online calendar. On this calendar, event planners will be able to see the availability of rooms for the times they need them, and can, like in the old system, go in and reserve the space through the website. This will speed up the process for both students and the Facilities team. Tumolo says she will be able to process requests much quicker, because as soon as they come through, she can meet with students to discuss further logistics.

Virtual EMS will include many improvements of the old system. It will particularly expand the specific requests section. There will be fields for requesting chairs, tables, etc. and a comment field for any special, particular needs. Fulfilling these individual demands will be expedited by an immediate confirmation of a space reservation, as the Facilities team can go on to send an e-mail to catering, environmental services, etc.

The motivation to revamp the system comes from the lack of conflicts represented in the old site. The new software will show conflicts, and will avoid having to turn people down for a space. “Now you can go in, see what’s available and request what’s available,” says Tumolo. Especially during add-drop periods, coordinating classrooms will no longer be the challenge that it was.

For a person who receives up to 60 – 70 requests a day, the new system will help Tumolo and her team operate more efficiently. She looks forward to working more closely with students, faculty and staff with actual event-planning. She is “hoping that it will give her more time to help students plan their events.” “I am waiting for it to be so easy–and I’m not saying that it is, because there is still such a high demand–but you’re going to be able to view much more of what’s going on.”

Just as Barbara Tumolo is thrilled about the extra time to meet with students, students have also expressed excitement about the system. Among students groups most affected by the new software is the Student Activities Committee (SAC), which makes decisions on student events proposals. Charlie Sussman ’05, Co-director of Student Activities Committee (SAC) says that the committee spends a lot of time debating whether or not they should provide funding for groups without confirmation of a reserved space. Recognizing the site as a “central space for reserving space on campus,” he looks forward to “eliminating the hurdle” of trying to fund parties that are unsure if they will have a space. SAC Secretary Emily Nolte ’07 also looks forward to the conflict-showing aspect of the new software. “It will help avoid any confusion of two groups coming in proposing an event for the same night in the same place.”

Virtual EMS will help solve many of the problems faced by both current event planners and will motivate those who previously viewed it as a logistically impossible feat. Students, faculty, staff and the Facilities Team alike can now rely on a new system that will expedite one of the most important aspects of planning an event, thus leaving time for other issues.

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