Viking Village, despite concerns for funding and maintenance, continues to be a successful outlet for Western students to share their thoughts, ideas and concerns.
Andy Peterson, head of library IT, was among many other groups and individuals who planned, established and created Viking Village, Western’s online service intended to create an open space for students, in October 2008.
“The idea of doing something online came up and we thought that would encourage more collaboration,” Peterson said. “We wanted to create a collaborating space within students. A place that brings together students so they can learn together.”
Viking Village offers students an array of ways to share content including a groups page, where students can gather and share a common interest, a gallery section, where any form of art can be shared, an ask section, where employees of many Western departments will answer a student’s question, and a ride share page, where students can organize rides to and from Western.
The forum, which may be the most used aspect of Viking Village, lets students use their voice and discuss anything they wish, Peterson said.
“I really love the ability to get content generated by students,” Peterson said. “We can as for feedback on Facebook and stuff, but we may not always be asking the right questions.”
Although Viking Village may be gaining popularity and use among Western Students, Viking Village content moderator Jon Bash said he is concerned over how long Viking Village will be able to function.
“It’s not really sustainable without having some paid to overlook it and funding is an issue,” Bash said.
Peterson, who currently maintains Viking Village’s technical infrastructure, was formally the only employee moderating and maintaining the forum, she said. Eventually monitoring Viking Village along with her duties as head of library IT became too much, Peterson said.
“It’s a high profile thing and it needs some care and feeding in terms of making sure that things are good on there,” Peterson said. “Once the responsibilities grew to a certain point, it was time to hand them off.”
Last year, after deciding Viking Village should continue, the advisory board began looking for a way to fund a position to oversee it, Bash said. This year a student-held position, held by Viking Village coordinator J.T. Williams, is funded by a one-time, one-year fund by the university, Bash said.
“So our job this year was to find a way to fund the position for next year, possibly expanding it to a 3 / 4 staff position rather than a student position,” Bash said in an email.
Although funding for Viking Village may only be certain for the time being, Peterson is optimistic her labor of love will continue, and the strong community students are building will continue as well, she said.
“We have a positive way forward,” Peterson said. “People post that they need support and there are so many people responding with positive feedback, it really makes my heart feel warm.”