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Student-made “EventDrops” site sparks university controversy

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EventDrops.com, a website created by DePaul student Khoa Nguyen, was created to assist DePaul organizations in their event planning. Recently, however, the website has been a source of controversy with the administration raising objections to it.         

Nguyen, a sophomore, started working on the website September of last year after hearing student complaints about OrgSync. Many claimed that it is hard to find events among the website’s other features, so Nguyen wanted to create something devoted solely to events.          

“We just want to make it an easy hub, centralized place for DePaul students to just find out about events,” said Nguyen. “As long as the events benefit the students, I don’t care what events they are… I wanted to make EventDrops as simple as possible.”        

EventDrops launched January 2012, and the first encounter he had with DePaul administration was after the Winter Involvement Fair. Nguyen asked Assistant Director of Student Involvement Roniciel “Joy” Vergara if the DePaul Activities Board would consider posting events on his website. According to Nguyen, Vergara declined his offer.          

“Joy thought that I had somehow hacked or somehow got the system for Campus Connect, the whole login system,” he said. “I told her it’s a totally different system. All I required was (that users) register with their DePaul email address and use their own password.”          

Throughout the rest of last year, traffic on EventDrops started to die down, and Nguyen took the opportunity to revamp the website over the summer. At this year’s Involvement Fair, he ran into Vergara again. She told him he was considered a third party and could not promote EventDrops at the fair without paying a fee.          

“EventDrops is not a registered student organization, and DePaul students individually are not allowed to have tables at Involvement Fair,” said Vergara. “In years past, we have asked DePaul students and external vendors to leave the Involvement Fair who have not registered or paid as a vendor.”

A DePaul organization that didn’t want to be mentioned received an email Sept. 11 from Student Involvement claiming that EventDrops was a security risk and should not be used by organizations. A couple days later, all organizations using EventDrops received an email recommending that they use only OrgSync to promote themselves. EventDrops was not mentioned by name in the second email.     

“I was very upset,” said Nguyen. “I thought that the worst they could do was just kick me out of the involvement fair. I didn’t know that they would take it one step further and actually email these organizations to tell them to avoid my website. The worst part about it was that the email made it seem like I was stealing information when I clearly wasn’t.”          

Nguyen believes the issue boils down to money, as DePaul pays for OrgSync. To him, OrgSync and EventDrops “have two different niches,” and he doesn’t view his website as competition for OrgSync.          

“I just wanted to get the message out there and tell people what’s happening,” he said. “I just don’t like being bullied by the university. For them to actually do this was against everything that I thought (the school was) about when I applied to DePaul.”          

Despite Nguyen’s allegations, Vergara maintained that Student Involvement didn’t accuse him of stealing information.       

“We wanted to provide clarity about using external vendors for promoting events,” she said.          

Additionally, she stated that OrgSync is one of many resources students can use to learn about organizations.          

“DePaul students get information from all different type of sources,” she said. “We want our students fully engaged in DePaul events and organizations to enhance their student experience.”          

Nguyen does see a future for EventDrops despite this controversy. He and EventDrops’ other co-founder, who attends the University of Illinois, hope to expand to other universities if the website is successful at DePaul. They even already have an interested party in Arizona. If not, Nguyen said, they might sell the script for the website to a third party.

“That’s ideally what we would pivot to if events don’t work out.”

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Student-made “EventDrops” site sparks university controversy