Social media enables EWU students to connect

Eastern+students+are+using+social+media+to+connect+without+being+on+campus.

Eastern students are using social media to connect without being on campus.

By Karlee Van De Venter, Arts and Features Editor

Making friends as a college freshman is usually never easy, but adding a pandemic into the mix makes it that much harder. Even with virtual events, it’s hard for incoming Eagles to get settled in and find their people this year. 

EWU sophomore Mike Moran noticed this disparity and wanted to do something about it. He happened to stumble upon a social media account for a Freshman Connect program at California State University, Chico. They had been using Instagram to interact with incoming freshmen through Q&A’s with seniors, virtual campus tours and promoting local businesses. 

Inspired by CSUC, Moran brought the idea to his sister, Meghan Moran, a recent EWU graduate. The two of them began brainstorming how they could bring that to EWU and what they would do differently. 

“I wanted to help people find a community of friends the same way people did for me last year,” Mike Moran said. “And also to just meet new people and make new friends myself.”

This brought forth EWU Connect on Instagram as @new2ewu. 

First posting on September 11, the caption read “#EWUConnect is for Eastern’s incoming students! Even though campus life is different right now, we can still connect and experience community in other ways! We look forward to getting to know you all!” 

As the EWU Connect team grew, they wanted to grow their outreach while connecting with more students. It didn’t take long to think of what college students might be motivated by: coffee. So their second post was centered around just that. In exchange for a free coffee (or other cafe item) and a tour of Cheney, students had to follow their account and tag a friend in the comments. After that, a team member would connect with each student. 

After being contacted by a team member, students schedule a time and place to meet with their team member. West Plains Coffee Roasters is a popular choice, which has also been promoted by EWU Connect. 

Team members encourage mask wearing and social distancing according to the business’s protocol. They pay for both drinks and get to know the student they’re with. Afterwards, they offer a tour of EWU and/or Cheney.

EWU Connect team members are also willing to take it outdoors for those who aren’t interested in cafe drinks. An @new2ewu Instagram caption read “If coffee isn’t your thing, we’d be happy to go skating, ride a bike, or hike the great outdoors with you!” 

“#EWUConnect is for Eastern’s incoming students! Even though campus life is different right now, we can still connect and experience community in other ways!” -EWU Connect Instagram Post

But the account isn’t just for free coffee. They have a story highlight called “Cheney Dreamin’” that highlights businesses, hang-out spots and nearby adventures that team members recommend. 

They have also posted promotions for other new programs this year, like Survivor Cheney (@survivorcheney). Survivor Cheney is a new competitive program that just finished its first round of competition. Teams of five competed in challenges every day and posted them online. Both accounts are centered around freshman meeting and interacting with new people, but with different approaches. Currently, Survivor Cheney is closed and hoping to hold a second round of competition. 

While this year isn’t exactly ordinary, students have been coming up with more creative ways to keep the community at EWU strong. Check out @new2ewu on Instagram for more opportunities and interactions.