The URI Student Affairs app is new, improved and still not working. Image from App Store.

The app now includes health services, parking and housing uses

The University of Rhode Island has recently updated its dining services app with new features that include many more aspects of student affairs. 

The new additions include health and parking aspects, and it offers a way for students to access e-Campus and Sakai right from their smartphone.

The app was originally used as a way to access the menus for the dining halls on campus. Now, the tabs on the front page include “My Dining” followed by “My Health,” “My Parking,” and “My Housing.”

The “My Parking” tab also includes gym information, such as the gym hours and membership services. Students can also purchase a parking permit on the app and pay for or appeal parking tickets. According to Lead Information Technologist Shaun Kavanaugh, who worked on the app, this tab was added just last week.

The “My Housing” tab connects students to services in Housing and Residential Life and provides access to the “My housing” portal.

The new “My Health” tab allows students to look up the hours for health services. Students can also access the patient portal to make an appointment with health services through the app.

“Patient portal is a big recent thing that Health Services] started doing,” explained Pierre St-Germain, director of Dining & Retail Food Services, who worked alongside Kavanaugh on the update. “That is what actually made me start thinking that there had to be a way of maybe incorporating other parts of Student Affairs into our app.”

He said he first came up with the idea after talking with Kavanaugh, and they agreed that it would make sense to make the app more comprehensive. The main goal of the update, according to St-Germain, was accessibility. 

“We just thought since we had something that existed, and sort of a quick information point for students, it would make sense to expand it to all of our Student Affairs,” St-Germain said.

St-Germain also said that while the feedback for the update has been mainly positive, some students were left missing how accessible the dining menus used to be.  

“That’s probably one of the more accessed parts of our app,” he said. “People want to see what’s available at what location, so [we’re] trying to clean that up a bit or make that a little bit more easily seen.”

St-Germain said that the timeline for changing this has still yet to be determined. 

“As we started going into it, it’s become a bit of a rabbit hole,” he said. “We’re hoping that we’ll be in a better place with the menuing and all of that for the spring semester.”

St-Germain said students will soon be able to add money to their Ram account via a credit card right on the app, and he hopes that the Counseling Center’s services can eventually be added, as well. A year from now, he hopes that Student Affairs will be working towards combining the larger URI app with this one, which is currently strictly used for Student Affairs.

“A lot of schools and URI will soon be among them, have an app presence,” St-Germain said. “I know that information technology services here on campus has started working towards that end, and when that happens, I’m sure that our app will become just part of a larger URI app, if you will. We’re happy about that.”

In the meantime, Kavanaugh and St-Germain are encouraging students to keep sending their feedback, and they can do so right on the app by clicking the upper right tab and then clicking “contact us.” This sends feedback directly to Kavanaugh’s email.

 “I only think I’ve heard from two or three students, but I try to get back to everybody pretty quickly,” Kavanaugh said. “If they have a question like ‘Where’d this go?’ or ‘Why can’t you do this?’ I’ll try to respond within 24 hours.”