The AMS is finally getting a new website this summer, following years of concerns about the current site being difficult to navigate and poorly updated.
AMS President Marium Hamid, who campaigned on a promise to revamp the website, said the new website is expected to be launched on August 27.
“For a couple of years, we've had a website that is not completely up to date and it's also in a position where it's not communicating everything we need on there,” said Hamid. “[It] doesn't reflect the sort of organization we want to be in terms of having equal voices within the website given to advocacy, outreach services and AMS events.”
Communication has been an issue for the AMS for a number of years. The 2016 Academic Experience Survey Report noted that “[t]he notion that the AMS should improve communications with students is not a new one” and called on the AMS to improve its image “by improving communication, being more involved with students, being better and more transparent with spending, as well as lowering tuition”.
Most recently, resource groups issued a list of demands to the society after the since-reversed decision to cut support services from the AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre, including "a more accessible, clear, and user-friendly website."
The AMS may even be violating its own code by not keeping council and committee meeting information up to date. Section V, Article 1 of the AMS's Code of Procedure mandates that notice and agendas for all Committee meetings should be posted on the Society's website at least 48 hours before a meeting — yet dates, times and locations for meetings are nowhere to be found on Committee pages.
The main problem with the current website are the dozens of outdated pages, which sometimes make finding reliable information on the society difficult.
Minutes for AMS Council meetings — which AMS code mandates are provided to the public — had last been updated in February 2018 when The Ubyssey looked at the site on July 12. It and other pages were updated after the interview with Hamid on July 13.
One AMS Sustainability page even describes the upcoming construction of the new SUB to begin in fall of 2012.
While outdated pages might seem annoying but ultimately trivial, some students argue that it speaks to a larger problem of communication and transparency within the society.
The 2018 AMS Academic Experience Survey found that fewer than half of undergraduate and graduate students rated the society favourably. AMS executives attributed this finding to poor communication to students about what the AMS does, particularly on the society’s advocacy regarding tuition and housing affordability.
Many of these concerns are expected to be addressed with the new website, which is being designed by Studiothink, a design company based in Surrey. This revamp comes with a price tag of $25,000.
“The information is on there, only patchy and often hard for people to find it,” said Hamid. “In the information that exists on our website, it is often easy for people not to understand what is being put out there. “
Hamid says the new site will have a "strong emphasis on navigation", with a dedicated page for elections and referendum information, up-to-date Council agendas and minutes, and easily accessible information on how to get involved with the AMS.
“We hope that it reflects our values and that it is able to initiate a platform through which students are able to constantly keep in touch with us and let us know what their thoughts are,” said Hamid.