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Student Senate launches ‘The Riv’ newsletter

April 8, 2015

On March 30, Student Senate President Anthony Sumnicht and other Senate members launched a weekly newsletter via email called “The Riv” to nearly 1,000 students at UW-River Falls.

The goal of the newsletter is to give students valuable news and information about the UWRF campus, the River Falls community, international events and other pertinent ideas and information for college students (like “15 homemade mac and cheese recipes you need in your life”).

By opening the email, students can easily scroll through the linear, organized information on any device and see snippets of stories and click on or tap the articles to view the full content.

Content for the newsletter comes from articles from the Student Voice, the River Falls Journal and anyone who writes in to uwrfsenate@gmail.com to contribute information to the newsletter.

“The Riv delivers the information student[s] want in a clean and simple weekly newsletter. The Riv is operated by students for students,” according to the first newsletter.

Sumnicht said he and other Senate members are trying to make consuming news as easy as possible for UWRF students in order to keep them informed about the things that are going on in their community and in the world.

“Senate has been discussing something we’ve been observing over the past few years, which is a disconnect between information on campus and the student body,” Sumnicht said.

The Riv is in beta-testing this year and Senate is looking for feedback to be given in order to improve the quality and get an idea of whether or not students see a need for it.

The Riv is not the only newsletter that reaches UWRF students. The Falcon Daily and the Falcon Connection both carry news content about UWRF via email to students, faculty and staff each week, but Sumnicht said those newsletters are targeted more toward faculty and staff members and not the students.

There are also numerous other ways for students to consume news on campus. The Voice produces weekly news articles for both online and print media, and WRFW airs weekly newscasts as well.

So far, only 1,000 people at UWRF have been emailed the newsletter over the first two weeks because Senate is trying out the software that allows them to create the newsletter for free for the first 60 days.

The Riv was launched near the end of the semester so it could be tested out on students for 60 days for free and receive feedback on it in order for Senate to decide if it should be something they should find funding for at the beginning of next year.

If Senate receives feedback suggesting the newsletter is not needed or wanted by students, then it will simply “go away,” according to Sumnicht.

Last week, only about 25 percent of students even opened the email containing The Riv, according to Sumnicht, who can look at the analytics through the program used to create it.

While Sumnicht said those statistics are disappointing, he said The Riv is part of a bigger goal and he hopes to get the word out to more students before the end of the semester.

“Hopefully, a long-term solution is, we’re looking at an app for campus, working with DoTS on developing an actual university app,” Sumnicht said.

However, the app could take a few years to develop and get funding for once the need for it is recognized.

For now, Sumnicht said he hopes The Riv will be easy for students to use and he said he wants those who do receive it during the next few weeks to share it among themselves and to give feedback after using it.

If all goes well and Senate gets funding for the newsletter for a full year, The Riv could be sent to an infinite number of people and keep the entire student body informed.