Written by: Amal Javad Abdullah, Staff Writer
As a school that boasts of being Canada’s most “engaged” university, one thing we can’t deny SFU’s its apparent engagement on social media. SFU’s various departments, faculties, student programs, student services, and even clubs are everywhere on social media. Several departments have their own social media pages, followers, and regular updates.
Much of the content on SFU and SFU-branched social media pages is student engagement — posts which the pages’ operators perceive as relatable to the everyday SFU student. These are usually pictures around campus, mentions of student accomplishments, or even the occasional corny meme.
While this content technically makes our university live up to its slogan, it isn’t always relevant to SFU students. We follow these pages and see these posts, but scroll past them without a second thought. They’re nice for a quick glance, maybe a like, but usually aren’t engaging enough to look into more deeply or share. They mostly serve as placeholder content to keep the page active and make it look pretty for the occasional interested viewer, maybe a prospective student.
Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this. There shouldn’t be a need to engage students on social media when they’re physically at an SFU campus, or busy with things related to SFU. We consume enough from our school as it is without also needing to see more of it in our faces when we’re on social media to relax and take a break.
SFU and its branched social media pages shouldn’t spend great amounts of effort trying to engage students exclusively online, because there really isn’t a need. To try to do that would be to try to occupy the students’ online social lives, and that just isn’t necessary.
Instead, the core goal of SFU social media should be to update students on things that could help their social lives offline.
Our school is known for its students having non-existent social lives. Its reputation as a commuter school could be changed if social media was used as a complement to students’ social lives.
The “commuter school” reputation only stands because students leave right after class. This leads to few people being on campus long enough to know what events are happening. The ones who know, meanwhile, don’t want to bother going to an event if it means they’ll have to commute home late or during rush hour.
If social media were used, it could help mitigate this problem. A student could come across the event beforehand on Facebook, read what it was about, then invite a few friends to make plans to go with them together. Moderators of these pages can help facilitate this discussion and detail events with people posting about it who seem unsure. Things like this could be a powerful tool for encouraging student engagement, and it should be utilized as effectively and extensively as possible.
Most of the content from SFU social media pages does little more than fill up our social media timelines, but it has the ability to do something far more tangible and beneficial. It needs to shift away from these unsubstantial posts, and create a more social atmosphere on campus through focus on events and student life.