Join the Group!
By Julie Colatrella '12
We modern, techno-savvy students come to campus with our fingers practically glued to keyboards and our eyes focused on screens. We use laptops, cell phones, Blackberries, iPods to connect with friends, shop, "vid-chat," gossip, read articles, read blogs and do pretty much anything else one could possibly think of to pass the hours of our days—at all hours of those days.
While we live and go to class on the Smith campus, it's easy to feel disconnected from the outside world—especially when you're comfortably snuggled under your covers with the soothing glow of the computer screen shimmering in your eyes and the rhythmic tapping of keyboard pattering in your ears.
That's because here at Smith, we don't have to do any extra work to find out what's going on around campus. Our school reaches out to us, with information conveniently transmitted onto our computer screens through the social networking and Web sites we already frequent.
I can also check several Web sites, including the Grecourt Gate, for college information. Then I can check Facebook to catch up with my friends and be reminded by Smith College to attend a concert later that evening or to read an article about the festivities I attended the night before. I may check my Twitter and find that Smith has "re-tweeted" one of my housemate's tweets of excitement about Julia Child Day, and I later congratulate her for her five minutes of Internet fame.
I can also check several Web sites for college information. If I'm upset about missing an event, like Julia Child Day, I might log onto YouTube and watch Smith's video footage of the event. And sites like The Daily Jolt, with classified ads and online forums about Smith topics, and The Smith Stalker, a student blog, mean I can fill my stagnant hours catching up on some eventful gossip or campus happenings. By checking smith.edu/2eat, I can view the menus of the Smith dining halls for the day and decide where I want to eat dinner.
With Smith College as my "friend" on so many of the social networking sites, I can't help but stay connected with the school, even if I don't intend to. Smith's 2,339 Twitter followers are likely to agree with my positive sentiments. With updates ranging from student quotes to reminders of campus events, Smith Twitter is an engaging resource for students otherwise procrastinating on the networking site.
Smithies can interact with their college, "tweeting back" and receiving recognition for their 140-character reflections about Smith life as well as their accomplishments on campus. And while Smith also has a Facebook page with more than 5,000 fans, the Facebook and Twitter sites each have their own own distinctive voices.
"Instead of posting the same information on both pages like a press release, we saw [the sites] as a way to interact with students," says Jeffrey Baker, Smith College associate director for new media. "The voices of each site are separate, with Twitter being more relaxed but in a catchy way. We want students to respond; Facebook and Twitter allow for that."
In addition to keeping current Smith students engaged and informed, the college's Web postings also help attract new students. I personally have these pages to thank for my own presence at the college. Were it not for them, I would not have been able to stalk the school so effectively when I was looking at colleges as a transfer student.
Smith's quick turnaround of event coverage with everything from articles to photographs to YouTube videos meant I could get a feel for the school's community without visiting the campus (something I couldn't do as a full-time student already enrolled in a university). And watching excited Smithies voice their opinions about New York Times articles or seeing typed-out versions of their house cheers only made me love Smith even more.
For current students, Smith's media usage helps us stay connected to campus happenings while going about our business. "It keeps me updated on my Smith information, especially since I get alerts on my phone," says Leah Santorine '13, a Smithie who follows both Facebook and Twitter.
Since we're a generation already used to social interactions via the Internet, it only makes sense to stay connected to our college through the same sites. "We thought, 'When in Rome' and saw it as a good way for the administration to communicate with students," Baker says.
Admittedly, I sometimes find myself frequenting Smith's sites a little too often. Like most students, I use Facebook and Twitter to escape from assignments I should be doing, and for some reason this action seems justified if I am checking out something related to school.
I watch Smith YouTube videos when I can't sleep at night, I scroll up and down the Facebook page when I'm on vacation and miss my Smith life, and I read the entire Twitter roll when I have blank time between classes. I am, admittedly, a Smith media addict, but that's because I am a Smith addict and I, like many Smithies, always want to be informed about what's going on around the campus I love so much.
Does any other school create such an effortless sense of community simply by jumping on the social networking bandwagon and going where students already are? That I couldn't say.
But I can say that students doubling as "fans" are certainly appreciative of the convenient, informative quirkiness that is Smith media. It's just one of many things that makes Smith so Smith.