Is Social Isolation a Problem on Today’s Campus?
If you’ve seen any of our presentations, we often quote the statistic “3 out of the top 5 reasons students drop out are social in nature” from the ACT 2004 study on What Works in Student Retention. Although statistics like these are important, they lack the personal story that affects students every year.
Yesterday, I was shocked to read a story from Lauren Laundry at Boston Innovation titled, Umass Student Looking to Make New Friends Voices his Opinion Gets Asked to Leave Campus. Why would a student looking to make friends be forced off campus?
An Unfortunate Turn of Events
The story is unfortunate. A student fed up with a lack of authentic social interaction tries a creative approach to making new friends (which involved leaving hundreds of notes under the doors of fellow students) and his harmless method is misinterpreted as a threat. Although the letter didn’t have any explicit threats or mentions of violence, some of the language roused suspicion amongst students who didn’t follow his rhetoric.
The part I suspect raised eyebrows was his final note, “Please don’t come if you are acquainted with me, I apologize, but just trust me.”
Attempting to Create a Make Friends Club
Now this post isn’t about whether his letter was questionable or if the university overreacted, but to bring attention to the issue of social isolation that takes place on today’s campus. As social creatures, relationships are one of the most important aspects of happiness. Although social media can potentially provide new ways for students to connect and build community on campus, there isn’t always an easy way to facilitate face-to-face interactions.
From Social Media to Social Interaction
Through our research we’ve found this feeling amongst students is common and recently released a feature called Meetups for students to create ad-hoc campus gatherings. Students with downtime before or after class often want to meetup with others, but there’s no easy way to organize these impromptu get-togethers into successful events.
Whether a student is looking to make a study group, find a friend to grab coffee with or organize a game of pickup basketball, we’re excited about students being able to utilize “social engagement” on a human level.
We’d love to hear from you. Do you have an initiative to improve community at your university? Share your successes or hurdles below.