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ACM- ACMs Corporate Misguidance

Caution, this is a very lengthy post.

One year ago, I was elected as the Chair for the local ACM chapter at WSU. Unfortunately, it ended in tragedy. I would like to share this experience with you.

Becoming the ACM Chair actually extends a great deal back. Long before I even knew what the ACM was, I was just atteding school for the first time. I had just entered the CS department, and began taking my first CS classes. There was, and still is, a large ACM logo banner in the halls of the department, that is used for ACM activities. I noticed that the banner hadn't been updated in a number of years.

Well, being new to the CS program, I was eager to make some friends. I met many friends, but a few stuck out to me more than any others. Two of which are John Linford and Mike Ferguson. At the time I met these individuals, John was a lab aide for the department and a passionate Linux user, and Mike was the ACM Chair and the Microsoft student ambassador.

Being the student ambassador, Mike help set the department up with Microsoft development software. This was accomplished through the ACM and the MSDNAA. To help increase ACM membership, students could download the software, only if they were ACM members. Needless to say, it didn't work, and now, you just need to be taking registered classes for the semester.

I began helping Mike with distributing the Microsoft software. Eventually, he asked me if I would like to join the ACM and become an officer. I said yes, and thus my involvement with the ACM began. This was about three-and-a-half years ago.

By the end of that spring semester, ACM elections were up, and John was put in as the new ACM Chair. I also ran for office, and was elected as the Vice Chair. John and I had some great ideas for the upcoming year. Unfortunately, getting the faculty involved with those activities proved to be a challenge. We were able to get some of the faculty to show up a one activity though.

With the few activities that were held that year, which were completely planned and organized by John and I, our advisor, Ron Peterson, was never involved. Well, I shouldn't say never. He did show up to a programming contest and another activity. If it wasn't for John constantly on Ron's back about the various activities, the ACM that year wouldn't have had any faculty involvement at all, and our advisor would've never attended.

A year later (one year ago this spring), elections came up again, and I ran for ACM Chair. I won and I was eager about the upcoming year and the activities that we would hold. However, the officers that were elected, as well as our advisor himself, did not share in the same excitement level that I did. Also, one year ago, I was able to identify that our website needed some serious help. But I'll get into that in another post.

John and Mike both designed websites to help the students. When becoming ACM Chair, I was concerned about keeping the code on those sites updated. After receiving instructions on how to modify the code, I quickly found out that only John and Mike had the permissions necessary to do so. The two sites in question are the Orangeforum and the WSU ACM Chapter. Both are still to this day very out of date, and the permissions have yet to be chaged.

I have sent numerous emails concerning this permissions issue, mainly because John and Mike have both graduated, and the result is always the same. Let someone else worry about it. Which is rather unfortunate, because students are losing interest in the program. Not because of these two sites, but because the paradigm of lazy thinking and procrastination.

I was not taking any classes the summer semester following elections, but I wasted no time planning for the upcoming year. Unfortunately, the ACM advisor and my officers did not share the same level of excitement. Several weeks into the fall semester, I was forcibly removed from my position as Chair by the advisor. I share with you the conversation that existed between myself and Dr. Peterson.

Ron: I'm removing you as the ACM Chair.
Me: Why?
Ron: Because you have not attended our meetings or activities.
Me: You mean our one activity and our one meeting?
Ron: Yes. You have shown no effort or interest in the group.
Me: Okay. Whatever. I am far too busy this semester anyway to worry about this. I won't lose any sleep.
Ron: Umm hmm.
Me: Well, will you do me a favor?
Ron: What's that?
Me: Will you make sure that the next ACM Chair knows that it's either your way or the highway?

Dr. Peterson accused me of showing no interest in the group. I can easily prove this accusation false through a series of emails. The first email was sent to the ACM officers with ideas that I had that would make the upcoming year great. The email is dated Aug 25, 2005.

This Fall Semester is going to rock! I am excited to work with each one of you to see what can we can accomplish this semester. First off, I would like each of you to come up with a few short ideas or principles that we can piece together for a mission statement. A mission statement will generate focus for the upcoming year.

Then I would like you to think of some activities that the students or community would like that generate excitement and interest in the computer science program. For example, I think we should have a programming contest among local high school students and hold it at Weber State on a Saturday. We would invite, Roy High, Weber High, Ogden High, Bonneville, Ben Lomond, etc. First place would get say an X-Box, Visual Studio 2005 (if it is available) and a gift card to a restaurant. Second place could get Visual Studio, and third could get a gift card. All participants could get a t-shirt. I think we have enough money this semester to pull somehting like this off fairly easily. Ron, can you confirm? Of course, we could come up with the puzzles and choose the language(s) to program in. The only thing is we would need some help getting the information to the local high schools. Anyway, think of stuff along those lines.

Lastly, we need to schedule a time for a meeting. Unfortunately, my schedule this semester sucks. The only time I have available is M-F early morning to 8am, or Saturdays. I work 9-5 M-F and I don't get home until around 6:30 ( I commute from Murray). I would like to hold a meeting at least once a month to see how things are coming along also.

Let me know what you guys think. If I didn't email someone or you prefer another email address, let me know what their email is and forward it along. As far as I am aware, I have the following list for our officers this year:

Chair: Aaron Toponce
Vice Chair: Ryan Lindeman
Seceretary: Levi Slade
Treasurer: Robert Bruderer
Liaison: Trek Potter
Davis Faculty Rep: Delroy Brinkerhoff
Davis Student-body Rep: Jake Reed
SLC Rep: John Kennedy

Thanks for volunteering your time this year to help make WSU CS a great department for a great school. I look forward to working with each of you.
- --
Aaron Toponce
WSU CS Webmaster
OALUG Install Coordinator
Registered Linux User 377079

The only response I received from this email was from Trek Potter mentioning that he would not be able to participate due to his busy schedule.

The next email was directed to Mike Ferguson who had just recently graduated. Seeing as though he was our Microsoft student ambassador, I figured we could get some involvement with Microsoft. This email was also dated Aug 25, 2005. He responded immediately.

I have a couple ideas for the upcoming year that would involve Microsoft, and I am wondering if you can help. I have emailed my ACM officers, and have run an idea by them and I would like to run the same by you. I would like to have a programming contest among local high school students. For first place, if I can get it cleared, I would like to hand out free an XBOX 360, Visual Studio 2005 and a gift card to a local restaurant. Second place could get Visual Studio. Third could get a gift card.

I didn't get a chance to finish the email. My palm slipped on the touchpad, and sent the email. Anyway, is it possible to hand out those prizes? I think both of them (the XBOX 360 and VS 2005) will be available in Novemeber, which would push the programming contest back to that month, unless you can get your hands on them earlier. Also, how much would it cost? Would we be able to get VS2005 for free? How about the XBOX?

Let me know.

Aaron Toponce

The next email was from the advisor Dr. Peterson about a planning meeting.

All officers who can come are invited to an ACM activity planning meeting called by Vice-Chair/Director of Chapter Activities, Ryan Lindeman.

Meet Thursday, September 1st, from 11 to 11:30 a.m. in the CS Dept Conference Room, TE 110H.

I quickly replied mentioning that I could not attend due to work. Unfortunately, I don't have the email saved, as I replied from work, and I don't keep my messages that far back. I asked if there was another way for me to be involved. I brought forth a couple of ideas, such as netmeeting or instant message. I never received a reply, and the meeting was held without me. I also sent out an email requesting a copy of the meeting minutes. To this day, I have still never received a copy.

At this point, I am beginning to wonder if I am actually still the ACM Chair. Aside from the responses from Trek and Mike, everyone of my emails have gone unanswered. Needless to say, I was beginning to feel frustrated. And it wasn't over yet.

All of the sudden, out of the blue, I heard there was an ACM sponsored programming contest that was held a week prior to me hearing about it. In other words, it was scheduled and planned without my knowledge. However, no one attended the contest, including faculty. Dr. Peterson was the only one to arrive, according to students who delivered the info to me.

Undaunted, Dr. Peterson rescheduled the programming contest. This time, I received the email. It was the first of October, and I was heavily involved with the Ogen Area Linux Users Group. Luck have it, the group was holding an install fest, and I was the install fest coordinator. Putting priorities in line, the install fest was more important to me than the programming contest. Here is the email that was sent to myself and some faculty members. The subject of the email was "ACM Programming Contest this Saturday".

Here is a link to the contest announcement.

Please encourage your students to attend and give them extra credit or some other motivation if you feel it is appropriate.

I sent an email asking to reschedule the contest at least one week later. Again, I don't have the email as it was sent from work. As predicted, I never received a reply.

A couple weeks later, while giving my proposal to the faculty regarding the new CS site that I was going to redesign, Dr. Peterson approached me, and told me that I was no longer ACM Chair.

It was actually a great relief to no longer be involved. What I found interesting, was that all the remaining officers, except for one, lost interest in the group before that fall semester was over. Could it be that they were also treated with the same lack of respect that I was?

At any rate, my experiencs with the group were negative. Personally, I feel that the ACM is an old mans group that will be dead in a number of years. I am glad to no longer be associated with them. However, I wish the group the best. Especially, the local chapter at WSU.

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