May 24, 2019 | 62° F

Campus Snapchat story exemplifies Rutgers narrative

Opinion Column: Digital Canvas

Rutgers University is a school filled with intelligent, curious and diverse thinkers. It’s the home of future inventors, doctors, authors and anything else you can think of. Because of our great accomplishments, and even greater students, Snapchat has added the Rutgers campus story, so now everyone is just a few clicks away from seeing and learning about the amazing people we have here. In the past, we were excited with just a simple geotag, but our own story is bigger news. For of those who don’t know, this is a public, live Snapchat feed that anyone around a University campus can view. Snapchat has hired someone, somewhere to receive all of our snaps and sift through hundreds (and maybe even thousands) of pictures and videos for our viewing pleasure. Not only does this give everyone a chance at their 15 minutes of fame, but it allows University students to see what is happening on campus, while also allowing students create a narrative for our University.

If we think back to last year, Rutgers did in fact have its own public Snapchat. Does the username, “RutgersSnapYak” ring a bell? Hopefully it doesn’t. This user, as well as its contributors, were an abomination to the University name. If you wanted to see students partaking in illegal and/or pornographic activities, RutgersSnapYak was a great place to start. This was definitely a Snapchat story you would want to view privately considering every posted snap came with a 99 percent chance of nudity. I don’t mean to be a Negative Nancy, but the stories under this username were absolutely disgusting, demeaning and showed how far students were willing to go for a few seconds up on a screen. It was a blemish to the prestigious Rutgers name. Just another reason why we should all feel so lucky to now have the “Our Campus Story” feature. It is something that thousands of students want to be a part of and feel the need to contribute to. We should all thank our lucky stripes Snapchat made an effort to prevent accounts like SnapYak by making a monitored Rutgers feed.

The “Rutgers Story” should be more than a portrayal of the prototypical stereotypes people usually have about college students. Life here is more than partying and football: We need to start showing it.

At such a massive school, there are only so many ways students can gather some perspective on their community as a whole. This Snapchat story is one of those ways. Sometimes it is easy to feel disconnected from the student body and staff here because of how many students and campuses we encompass. Whether we're Mason Gross ballerinas, students in an interesting physics lab or just some random girls baking cookies in their dorm, we all come together via Snapchat to see what our fellow students are up to with each new day. It unifies us, even if we don’t know who’s speaking or what they’re talking about. Somewhere along the line, we can find something in common through our pictures and videos. If you weren’t able to make an event, it’ll be up on the story. If you missed a soccer game, it’ll probably be up on the story. If you are wondering where to get free food on campus, it’ll definitely be up on the story. It’s a great way of having even the most antisocial of students stay in the loop.

So it is now clear that Snapchat is an open forum for all and any storytellers. Not only are students able to create their own narrative for the University, but they are forced to tell it in the best way possible. The friendly competition between every Snapchat user at Rutgers allows only the most interesting (and appropriate) stories to get posted. Some teachers have even offered extra credit to students who get their Snapchats on the Rutgers story first, creating incentive. I check the feed every day hoping a familiar face might be on there and maybe even my own. But I mostly check to see what kind of antics we are getting ourselves into on the daily. It makes me happy to see that some stranger got an A on an exam — it allows for every viewer to make connections to people in different ways. Maybe that was the push someone needed to get themselves to the library, or maybe it sparked the interest of another student to take that same class. Either way, this is a special thing we have and if we all put in an effort to keep our lives interesting, we will end up enjoying our Rutgers snap feed more than we do already.

Epatia Lilikas is a junior in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in English and economics. Her column “Digital Canvas,” runs monthly on Thursdays. 

Epatia Lilikas

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