UT should use social media to promote student organizations

Jesus Vidales

I, like many other freshmen, entered UT not knowing anyone, and I vividly remember the daunting first few months before I was able to make any new friends. My UT experience was just logging onto class to get a grade and then shutting off the computer to wait until the next day. It was isolating and repetitive, and it’s a shame that this is still what UT looks like for so many. 

COVID-19 has caused 50% of UT students to take classes fully online. This has left many students, especially freshmen and transfer students, feeling isolated as they can’t connect to people as easily as they normally could.

UT student organizations have the potential to alleviate this loneliness and give a sense of community to those who feel their only relationship is with their laptop. However, it’s often hard for students to find out about these organizations. 

UT should better promote these clubs and organizations across their social media platforms to foster meaningful student connections during these distant times. 

English freshman Daniela Villagrana has felt the effects of COVID-19 on her social life and would benefit from better advertisement of student organizations. 

“I definitely feel like I’ve missed out on clubs and organizations due to COVID-19,” Villagrana said. “I feel like it would be easier to see clubs on my Instagram because no one checks HornsLink, and everyone uses social media.” 

Normally, students would have the opportunity to get acquainted with clubs on Speedway, where they can easily strike up a conversation with members looking for new recruits. With COVID-19, not many clubs are comfortable with recruiting new members this way.  

HornsLink is a UT website where Longhorns can find clubs, but it only contains a brief text description of the organization along with a few pictures. It does the job of showing the clubs UT has, but it doesn’t allow students to really get to know the organizations they may want to join. Moreover, the information on these HornsLinks profiles are sometimes old, and often, newer clubs don’t even have profiles. 

I had a hard time finding an appealing organization that seemed like it would make me feel at home. It’s not something you can get from reading a text that tells you about the club. You have to be able to see the organization in action to invest yourself in it and feel passionate about it. 

Social media clips are a much more personal way to introduce students to new clubs, especially since more students readily check social media platforms than websites. 

On Instagram, UT posts about some student organizations’ meetings and get-togethers, but they are mainly just announcements about one-time events with little commitment as opposed to organized weekly meetings where students can establish stronger connections. 

The short videos UT posts to show mini-tours of the campus would be a much better format for highlighting different clubs and their mission statements. Since they already have the capacity for this form of advertisement, UT should use it to introduce students to different organizations in a more welcoming and comprehensive manner. University Communications was unable to respond to my request for comment before the publication of this article.

UT is an amazing place to find a community to call your own. Although it is a big university, the little niches students carve out for themselves when they join student organizations make it more personable and inviting. In this distant and faceless learning environment, UT must step up to help students find the communities they need now more than ever. 

Vidales is an English freshman from Houston, Texas.