Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ketchup with UNL Dining Commons Campaign

Commons Campaign Final Portfolio
“Ketchup with the Dining Staff”
Group members: Melanie Farmer, Sarah Stage, Jake Givens,
Matthew Van Beek, Mallory Einfalt, Alex Janvrin
Project Proposal:
For our commons campaign, we hope to raise awareness about the dining halls and shape the student’s opinions to be more favorable of the dining halls.  In order to do this, we will first individually interview dining hall staff and question the administration about statistics such as the overall number of workers.  We plan to put out paper tents filled with information in each of the four dining halls.  These paper tents will include a blog address that we will update weekly with more complete stories about our findings.   
The exigence for our campaign is an under appreciation of the dining hall workers. People frequently complain about the dining hall’s hours and schedule, the dining hall staff, and the food’s quality.  Since the majority of people who use the dining halls are UNL students, they will be our rhetorical audience.  Also, while we are not trying to change the opinions of anyone on the staff, they will see the information we put out and must be considered in our choice of information as well.   
Constraints include the limited data that the administration will share with us regarding finances, the limited availability of food staff, limited material resources (printing is expensive), and a short time-frame (only 8 weeks).  However, the opportunities for this response outweigh the challenges.  We all have unlimited accessibility to the dining halls.  We use them every day, and they are all within a short walk.  We have good ethos with the staff because we are honors students and want to put effort into this project for the dining halls.   We are also students which makes us more credible to other students.  We aren’t adults trying to teach freshman a lesson.
This is a fitting way to produce social change because it is a less aggressive way of shaping people’s opinions.  We aren’t trying to hold protests, nor are we trying to glorify the dining halls just to win students’ support.  The information we provide will be convenient and accessible for the students since it will be in a place they frequently visit.  It is a fitting time because the audience has been exposed to the dining halls and peoples’ complaints about the dining halls.
This is an inventive/creative approach because of the limited scope of the project; instead of trying to change the dining halls to satisfy people, like most people would, we are trying to change people’s opinions about it to satisfy them.
This is memorable because it involves a subject that the students are close to.  Students are always hungry, they visit the dining hall three times a day, and they are very aware of the dynamics between themselves and the dining hall staff.
We are using the blog as an organizational tool to combine all of the data on the dining halls because it has unlimited space. However, since most people won’t look at a blog post, we will also place paper tents in the dining hall because every student is forced to see it while they eat.  The paper tents will have two sides with information.  One side will contain a “general” page that consists of a FAQ and our blog link.  The other side will have an interview with a dining hall staffer.  This seems to be the best way to not overload the students with information, while still providing more information for people who are more interested via the blog.
                For style on the micro level, we will focus on the wording used for the table tents, types of questions asked in the interviews, visual attractiveness of the table tents and blog, and a general eloquence and rhetorical language in the blog posts.  On the macro level, we will maintain organization by connecting the table tent information with the blog so this doesn’t become an individual project in each of the four dining halls.
The division of labor will be as follows:
·                    Alex is the contact for the Harper, Schramm, Smith dining hall.  She is responsible for organizing interviews with staff members of the dining hall and typing up the responses into a blog post.
·       Matt is the contact for the Cather, Pound, Neihardt dining hall.  He is responsible for organizing interviews with staff members of the dining hall and typing up the responses into a blog post.
·       Melanie is the contact for the Selleck dining hall.  She is responsible for organizing interviews with staff members of the dining hall and typing up the responses into a blog post.
·    Sarah is the contact for the Abel dining hall.  She is responsible for organizing interviews with staff members of the dining hall and typing up the responses into a blog post.
·       Mallory is the contact for the dining hall administration staff.  She is responsible for receiving permission for our project and gathering statistics to present in FAQ form.
·        Jake is in charge of designing, organizing and maintaining the blog for the project.
The entire group worked on writing the proposal and will create the paper tents for the dining hall tables.  We plan on collaborating to come up with interview questions and elements of design (on the table tents), so our project is cohesive.  We will meet as needed.
General Timeline:
8 weeks, Due December 10th
Week 1: Proposal made, compose general email to the managers of different dining halls (HSS, CPN, Abel-Sandoz, Selleck), send emails
Week 2: Fall Break, further contact with managers
Week 3: Creating questions for the interview, scheduling interviews
Week 4: Get interviews, Blog created
Week 5: Make flyers for tables, have them out by November 8th
Week 6: Update flyers and blog
Week 7: Update flyers and blog
Week 8: Project Complete. Portfolio compiled.

Explanation of What We Did:
Everything mentioned in the project proposal went as planned, but we would like to expand on the details of what we did.  A big part of starting our project involved contacting people in the UNL administration staff to ask for permission, explain our processes, and plan interviews.  In order to get permission for our project, we were in contact with Pam Edwards, the assistant director to the university dining services.  It was important to converse professionally with her, and she did take our project very seriously.  She was extremely helpful in explaining our project to the managers of the individual dining halls.  She mentioned our project at a meeting, and immediately after, all of the managers were much more receptive to our project and putting us into contact with staff.  We also had Pam preview the table tents to make sure the information was appropriate.
                We completed all the interviews after getting permission from Pam Edwards.  Each manager asked for volunteers to be interviewed, and we used three of them.  The interviews took approximately 15 minutes each and were surprisingly interesting.  The questions we asked can be viewed on our blog.  They included things like job description, what he or she enjoys about the job, and hobbies outside of work.  We chose certain questions, depending on the person, to put on the table tent that week.  Examples of the table tents can be found in the separate attachment on the blog post.  The table tents had three sides, one with our logo, one with a short version of the interview, and one with general facts.  One week we had an “about us”, the next we had facts about the Good, Fresh, Local food program, and the last one had some interesting facts.  Our blog can be found at ketchupunldining.blogspot.com. We used the pun “Ketchup with the Dining Staff”, so our project was memorable to people.  We used the pun for our logo as well.

            Here is a link to some of our table tents that were out over the course of the project: https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=7F0E857944B304E1%211556

We had to have permission from each dining hall manager to put the table tents out.  Each week, it took about 3 hours per dining hall per week to print, make, and distribute the table tents. 
Overall, our initial plan worked very effectively. 

Evidence of Our Intervention:
The blog went surprisingly well; we were surprised that 460+ people decided to actually type in the URL.  We also overheard people exclaiming things like, “Ooh, ooh, another one.  I love Jesse!”  We also frequently saw people holding up the table tents and reading them while eating.   More evidence of our intervention can be found at http://ketchupunldining.blogspot.com/
As we previously mentioned, the project went well because we actually got attention.  We also were able to roughly follow the timeline.  It took about a week longer than expected to get permission from administration for our project.  However, we still were able to get the table tents out for three separate weeks.   The interviews also went really well, and the dining hall staff were very receptive to our project.  If anything, we were very happy we did this project to make the staff feel appreciated.   
Thoughts for Improvements:
We should have put our project on Facebook so that there was one more place people could have interacted with our content.  This would have allowed them to like the posts and comment on the posts.  We could have put a QR code on the table tent as well so that people could have automatically connected to our website with their smartphones instead of typing in the URL.  This probably would have made the blog more accessible. We also could have made a google survey page that would collect feedback from the visitors to the blog.  We had a general idea of what people thought of our project, but did not have specific opinions or an idea of how many people were interacting with our project. 
We also could have made more blog posts about things other than our interviews.  It was hard to find more behind-the-scenes type facts because a lot of it was classified or we did not have enough time to find and interview the right people with that information. 

With all that said, we were very happy with how our project went.  We were very organized and accomplished what we wanted.  It was a great learning experience about interacting with our commons and affecting public opinion.    

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