Correction appended: Sept. 5, 2012.
After legislation passed unanimously at University Park Undergraduate Association’s first meeting of the year on Aug. 29, funding was allocated to improve the Off-Campus Housing Database website.
The University Park Undergraduate Association has a budget of $8,000 to spend on upgrading the website. Of the allotted $8,000, the UPUA plans to only use $6,000. The $6,000 will be used to pay the coder hired by UPUA.
UPUA representative Rishi Mittal said he’d like to have a $2,000 buffer in the legislation as a good budgeting strategy. For that reason, the budget was set at $8,000 rather than $6,000.
The current Off-Campus Housing Database is seen as outdated and in need of repair.
“Students didn’t gain much out of it. There were no pictures available. It’s not that intuitive,” Mittal (junior-finance) said. “We’re going with a private coder who’s under contract through Penn State. Through that, we’re going to make an off-campus website.”
After renovating the site, it will be more user-friendly.
“It’ll have options where you can refine selections by say, distance from campus or price, things like that make it more intuitive. We’re designing it so it feels like more popular shopping sites today. You’ll be able to more quickly search your options,” UPUA Chairman of the Assembly Spencer Malloy said.
UPUA had two options to choose between when hiring someone to restructure the website. One option was to hire an outside contractor, but they instead decided to hire a third party coder through Penn State.
“The service will be owned by Penn State which is better in the long run because it’s all non-profit,” Mittal said.
The coder UPUA hired has background knowledge and has previously worked with Penn State. Because of this, the organization felt he was the best fit to work on the site, Mittal said.
Once completed, the database will be much more effective in helping students find potential roommates and apartment listings. If everything goes as planned, the database could also see expansion among Commonwealth Campuses.
“I expect almost every student who’s looking for off-campus housing to use this. If it looks like a great service, we’re going to look out to the commonwealth campuses to do it. There’s a huge possibility, 90 percent certain, that this code will go to the commonwealth campuses,” Malloy (senior-philosophy and agroecology) said.
Off-Campus Student Union President Joe Nichisti said getting word out about the site is critical.
“They need to advertise it and get people using it,” Nichisti (senior-chemistry) said.
The database will be finished its updates by the end of October at the earliest, but it could potentially take the entire semester, Mittal said.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly referenced Penn State campuses outside of University Park. These campuses are Commonwealth Campuses. The above article reflects the correct information. The Daily Collegian apologizes for this error.