Mount St. Joseph University

Mount Roar!: Social Media for Students

Dateline: student newspaper

By: Brian Mendell

File Under: dateline

Have you downloaded the Mount Roar! app? If the answer is no, what are you waiting for? Go on, pull out your phone, go to the App Store, and get Mount Roar!. This app has a lot to offer and you don’t know what you’re missing.

We got a chance to sit down with Alex Nakonechyni, Associate Vice President of Campus Technologies, and Sierra Henline, Student Technologies Engineering Manager, to talk about what makes the app unique to the Mount, how it’s doing, and how you can get involved.

When work first began on Mount Roar! Nakonechyni, Henline and a team of others used focus groups to identify student needs. Questions were posed to small groups of the student body with the goal of determining why students chose the Mount for higher education. The answers were what you’d expect: family, community, and a chance to form close relationships.

But forming close relationships is harder than you’d think. Nakonechyni gave provided insight. “Twenty years ago students (arriving on campus) were cut off from family and friends. You could write a letter or place a call, but not much else. It was just easier to meet new people.”

Today, students have their friends and family at their fingertips, according to Nakonechyni. They are constantly updated on the activities of those they’ve left behind. This exacerbates feelings of loneliness and can make it difficult to look up and make new friends.

An article titled “The Real Campus Scourge” from a Sept. 2 issue of The New York Times, confirms this: “In a survey of nearly 28,000 students on 51 campuses by the American College Health Association last year, more than 60 percent said that they had ‘felt very lonely’ in the previous 12 months. Nearly 30 percent said that they had felt that way in the previous two weeks.”

So, goal number one became connecting students to one another. How can anyone make this happen? For Nakonechyni and Henline, the answer was in the problem: social media. Mount Roar! currently allows students to connect social media like Snap Chat and Instagram to their profiles. Students can submit their own profile pictures, see who is in their classes, and view other students in their dorm. There’s no need to worry about that creepy professor viewing your old Instagram photos either. Most faculty doesn’t have access to that part of the app. In Nakonechyni’s own words: “It’s an app for students, by students.”

Another important aspect of Mount Roar! is its ability to disseminate information about campus events. Have you seen tons of fliers for events hanging up around campus? Almost definitely. Have you actually read any of them? Maybe one. How about those 37 emails hanging out in your inbox? No? What about the T.V.s around the University? Which, by the way, are streaming feed directly from the app.

Mount Roar! takes all that information and sorts it in a way that thumbtacks and junk mail folders simply can’t. Via the app, students can search events by keywords. Into yoga? Here’s two upcoming sessions. Looking for some free food? There’s three events this week. If they’re still unsure whether or not an event is right for them, students can view photos of similar past events right on their phone.

Okay, so the app has some cool things to offer, but is anyone actually using it? Overwhelmingly, yes! Nakonechyni and Henline offered up some numbers: Since launch, the app has received over 700 visits, a number that is growing daily. Almost the entire freshman class has participated in some way. There are at least two to three users on the app at any given time, with morning hours seeing upwards of 50 users on at once. The first poll that was conducted on Mount Roar! received 191 responses. Three hundred eighty nine users have uploaded custom profile pictures, 270 have connected their Snapchat accounts and 144 have linked with Instagram.

Henline says that Mount Roar! is meant to equip and enable students. The app is certainly capable of doing just that. But Nakonechyni, Henline and the rest of the Mount Roar! team aren’t done. There’s plenty more to come. Twitter and group messaging are already in the works.

Support for the app is ongoing and the team needs student help. If you have a cool idea, want to see something on the app, advertise an event, or just generally want to get involved, write to msjuhelpdesk via University email, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or twitter. And don’t say they didn’t give you options.