As Swatties return to campus, it is out with the old Virtual EMS and in with the new and improved Swat Central. Swat Central is a new software aimed at making scheduling and reserving spaces easier.
According to the college’s Events Management website, Swat Central is “Swarthmore’s new system for promoting events and reserving space on campus.” Swat Central will act as a one stop shop for event management and information. With this new system students will be able to view all scheduled events on a school wide calendar. According to new Director of Events and Programs Susan Eagar, the program is more accessible to student groups and more efficient.
“Swat Central has streamlined the process of placing event requests and creating event posts on the Campus Calendar. It’s also made it easier for student groups to get any assistance and support they might need from the Office of Student Engagement,” Eagar wrote in an e-mail to the Phoenix.
However, some students do not feel that Swat Central has made scheduling easier.
“I’ve not heard anyone who has had positive things to say about Swat Central,” Arthur Davis ’19 wrote in an email. “While a few people have, after a little bit of fiddling, found that they could use it well enough, I have yet to hear anyone compliment it. Even then, it’s just neutral: ‘I could live with this.’”
As a former frequent user of the old Virtual EMS system, Davis feels there is a large difference between the two programs.
“It was easy to see the availabilities of all spaces laid out, and easy to select your space,” Davis said in reference to the Virtual EMS system.
Davis was not the only student dissatisfied about the program since its launch. Olivia Smith ‘21 has also had some negative encounters with the new system.
“I used Swat Central to reserve a room for the Coed Volleyball Club two weeks prior to needing it, but our reservation apparently did not go through and wasn’t on the system,” Smith said. “There was another team in our space, so I’m guessing Swat Central double booked, or neither of our reservations went through.”
Due to the malfunction, Smith’s team was unable to practice in their space on that night. Smith’s first experience with reserving space on campus was through the Swat Central programming.
“Swat Central was user unfriendly and added stress to my team and the new leaders of our club,” Smith said.
“When I used the program for Photography, I experienced the same problems,” Smith said. “The program was very specific and did not have my clubs listed, so I had to place it under ‘other.’ It really delegitimized my clubs.”
Though the college offered Swat Central training sessions for students at the beginning of the semester, some students feel it should be more intuitive.
“If Swat has to host training sessions for the new system to even be functional, it isn’t user-friendly,” Davis said.
Smith can agree with Davis about the user unfriendliness of the system.
“Training is definitely needed to fully understand how this program works,” Smith said.
In addition to the technical bugs, many students have found the Swat Central design to be rather unappealing.
“When it is loaded, Swat Central quickly proves overwhelming. There are tabs here and there, there are a whole host of options that do not seem clear– ‘Your Starred Resources,’ but what is starring? What are the resources? Why would I even want this? –there are strange graphics which are visually distracting–the page for events? A cube for locations? A pyramid for resources?–and so on,” Davis wrote.
While Davis found the software overwhelming, Smith said that “the design of Swat Central is old looking, which is kind of surprising since it is new software. It is not really appealing.”
Although many students are not pleased with the new system so far, the college has implemented this program with the hopes of making things easier.
“Our goal in upgrading the scheduling system was to improve how we schedule events and to encourage our community members to publish their events on the Campus calendar,” Eagar wrote.
With so many changes to the old system, the feelings towards the new system are divided. The ability to reserve rooms is a privilege many students have come to enjoy and appreciate, but with this new system in place, it appears that this privilege is starting to become a bit of a struggle.