Penn Labs unveiled a new online platform called Hub@Penn to help students find and connect with the various academic, cultural, and health resources the University offers.
The website displays contact information and descriptions for 97 campus organizations, ranging from Counseling and Psychological Services to Penn Women's Center. Penn Labs partnered with New Student Orientation and Academic Initiatives, the Office of the Vice Provost for University Life, and the Online Learning Initiative to launch the project for the spring 2021 semester.
Students can refine their search using tags such as "academic support," "health," and "financial," as well as filters for school and year. Hub@Penn will also feature virtual fairs and events where students can learn about the resources available to them.
“Beyond offering contact information, it is really targeted to help students learn about the wide array of resources at Penn that you wouldn’t be able to [find] just by doing a quick browse,” Penn Labs Co-Director and Wharton junior Misty Liao said.
Penn Labs began developing the website in the fall after the OLI asked them to create a platform for official University resources similar to the one they created for Penn Clubs for the Student Activities Council fair, Engineering and Wharton junior Armaan Tobaccowalla said.
The platform is very similar to Penn Clubs in terms of layout and the ability to filter and search for resources, Tobaccowalla, who is the former co-director of Penn Labs, added.
“That was a very intentional decision because students more or less have to use Penn Clubs to find out about clubs virtually, and we thought that once you already know how to do it there, searching for resources is the exact same process,” he said.
Managers of the resources and organizations on Hub@Penn have the ability to look at the information on their page and edit it as they see fit, Engineering sophomore Campbell Phalen, a backend engineer at Penn Labs and member of the Hub@Penn development team, said.
The platform also allows newly created resources to join the platform through an approval process guided by Hub@Penn administrators who ensure resources comply with University guidelines.
“It isn’t something that Penn Labs or OLI or NSOAI have full authority over,” Tobaccowalla said. “The actual information itself is supposed to come from the various resources, so that way it’s up to date, and students can get more help.”
The need for a platform like Hub@Penn became more apparent during the pandemic and the University’s transition to a fully remote learning environment during the fall 2020 semester, Liao said.
“The switch to virtual has made all these groups like OLI and us at Penn Labs think more heavily about the ways in which we can transfer the information that we have, which would normally be delivered in person, into a virtual format,” Liao said. “It’s really pushed all of us to think about how we can really make things more accessible for every student, whether or not they are able to be on campus, or have people they can talk to about these resources.”
As more organizations continue to join Hub@Penn, the Penn Labs team hopes it continues to serve as a resource for all students.
“The key goal is that it gives students a place to always come to when they have something that they are trying to do, but have no idea where to start," Liao said.
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