Sunday, April 30

Student government launches text service for UCLA-related questions


Sandra Rhee, undergraduate student government facilities commissioner, introduced a new text service Monday where students can ask questions about campus services. (Jintak Han/Assistant Photo editor)

Sandra Rhee, undergraduate student government facilities commissioner, introduced a new text service Monday where students can ask questions about campus services. (Jintak Han/Assistant Photo editor)


Students can now text a number to get instant answers about campus food, study and rental facilities.

A new text service with information on topics such as dining hall hours, study location hours, library rentals and John Wooden Center hours launched Monday. Sandra Rhee, undergraduate student government facilities commissioner, presented the idea for the service at the Feb. 14 Undergraduate Students Association Council meeting.

To use the service, students can text “askgene” to 555888, after which will they will receive a message from “Gene B.” They can choose between “Food,” “Study” and “Rentals” and be directed to links with relevant information.

The pilot program costs $95 for every 3,000 text messages sent to students, Rhee said. The office plans to create a sustainable fund to continue the service after Rhee’s term.

According to the bot, messaging and data rates may apply. Students can also give feedback through the app or ask for help.

Rhee added she thinks the app addresses needs that are urgent to students. She said students can use the service instead of Google and other existing search engines if they need UCLA-specific information.

“It’s also a right step in the way of technology; we’re going away from using posters and signage and instead relying on a digital form of communication,” Rhee added.

Since its launch, the service has sent 141 messages to 26 people.

Some students said they think the service is an easier option to get answers.

Alejandra Loera, a third-year sociology student, said she thinks having the option to text questions is easier than calling individual services.

[Related: UCLA alumnus creates free website for students seeking study spaces]

David Recinos, a fourth-year economics student, said he thinks the service is a good idea.

“I would use it instead of Googling, depending on how fast the response time is,” he said.

However, some students said they don’t think the service is practical.

Jasmine Wong, a third-year gender studies student, said she would not use the service.

“Anything I can text I can look up,” Wong said. “I don’t see how texting would make it any easier than what we (already) have access to.”

Sam Sobell, a fourth-year computer science student, said that he doesn’t think he would remember to use the service.

“If I have a question, my first thought would be to go to the website, but if (the service) is advertised around a lot, I might use it,” he added.

The commission is still making tweaks to the service, such as removing bugs, Rhee said. They will launch an improved version week one of spring quarter.

 

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