Website stands up for students to ‘inspire students to make positive change’

Joanna Pleta, David Fraher, Catarina Barroso Jihong Kim, Dave Giglio and Michael Ashbourne started to improve the image of Queen’s and its students.
Joanna Pleta, David Fraher, Catarina Barroso Jihong Kim, Dave Giglio and Michael Ashbourne started to improve the image of Queen’s and its students.

Five students are looking to build a positive image for Queen’s University and its students—one click at a time. Yesterday, Joanna Pleta, Dave Giglio, Jihong Kim, Catarina Barroso, Michael Ashbourne and David Fraher publically launched, a website highlighting the beneficial activities and charitable organizations students have initiated to build a constructive relationship with the Kingston community.

Pleta, Comm ’10, said one of the website’s main goals is to improve the reputation of Queen’s students to the outside world.

“One problem we had was trying to find publicity about Queen’s and what students do, and we couldn’t find anything except for one article,” she said.

Pleta said the website will partner with a number of student and Kingston charities to showcase students’ work in the community with groups such as DREAM, Vogue, Oxfam, Goatface, Commerce Kids, Habitat for Humanity and Amnesty International.

“Another goal we want is to inspire students to make positive change in the neighbourhood and community by presenting an opportunity to volunteer and getting involved by forming a network of student groups and also trying to collaborate with student groups to make their voice heard so the students can know about other initiatives,” she said.

Giglio, Comm ’09, said the group’s decision to use the term Ghetto instead of the newly coined Village was an issue up for debate when creating the website.

“It’s because this isn’t an AMS initiative and it isn’t a Queen’s initiative. It’s a student-run grassroots initiative,” he said. “It’s something we use because we’re students talking to students, and it’s a term students actually use.”

Giglio said he thinks the website represents a kind of urgency that students are feeling to improve their reputation in the wake of websites such as the one maintained by the Save Our Neighbourhood Action Group, which hosts pictures of student parties and includes their addresses.

“We’re talking on a leadership initiative to step up and do that once and for all. Where [Don Rogers] went wrong is he’s talking down to students. There’s no collaboration or room to let students have input in a positive way. We’re trying to be that source and the other side of the story,” he said.

Giglio said the website has received positive feedback from student groups who are interested in becoming part of the initiative.

“Students are engaging with us and getting behind our initiative, otherwise they wouldn’t have even bothered. They’re really are backing it. There are some questions being raised, so it must be hitting a right note.”

Michael Ashbourne, Comm ’10, said one of the website’s projects within the next five to six months will be to maximize the numbers of visitors to “If anybody types in the words ‘Queen’s University’ or ‘Kingston, Ontario’ into Google, our website will show up to the first page,” he said. “That’s accounting for 1,500 searches a day, so we’ll be the face of the student body.”

Ashbourne said getting a website to the top of a search engine’s page is done through search engine optimization.

“Sites will improve their rankings when Google sees other sites are linking into them. We’re starting a campaign to get ourselves known, and other sites will link into us,” he said. “In terms of being a part of the Internet, we would be connected to different sources and organizations.”

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