Universities get in the social networking game

Students at universities across the country are increasingly using social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to juggle their social lives on campus and at home.

CampusLIVE, one of many developing “niche” sites, provides college students with an academic supplement to Facebook, incorporating student-specific features with campus services and access to their peers.

University of Massachusetts-Amherst students Jared Stenquist, Boris Revsin and Jeff Cassidy founded the site in 2007. It began as a homepage, unique to each university, for college students to search restaurant menus, local businesses and their Facebook news feed.

Earlier this year, CampusLIVE underwent a design change. Now, the site is linked with Facebook and incorporates students’ class schedules, dorm residencies and dorm-mates, years of graduation and majors, eateries, local businesses, TV guides, maps, student organizations and school services — all for free in order to match them up with classmates.

“What CampusLIVE really is … is a community,” said CEO and founder Boris Revsin. “What we want is for freshmen and sophomores to see what halls they’re in, (and) be able to meet new people.

“We want them to feel at home, and want the number one thing they do is go to CampusLIVE to do all that.”

Since the site’s creation, 228 universities across the country have adopted networks, and about 250,000 students at those universities use the service, according to CampusLIVE estimates.

Those numbers don’t include Marquette students, as not enough students have indicated interest in joining the social network, Revsin said.

Establishing a CampusLIVE page requires 100 to 200 students indicating interest through an online form at atcampuslive.com.

“As quickly as we can get restaurant menus and content from local businesses, we can have a Marquette site up and running,” said Jesse Morgan, CampusLIVE director of marketing.

Some students are receptive to the idea of an all-inclusive site for Facebook and other campus resources.

“Especially being in a city, people are always looking for entertainment and food options,” said Devon Bobulsky, a junior in the College of Health Sciences. “It would even be nice to contact local businesses to work with, or promote P.R. for clubs and Greek life.”

Marquette currently focuses its social media efforts on sites that students use most, but it monitors sites like tumblr, Unigo, and vimeo.

“We’re focused on where the users are … and to communicate with them there,” said Tim Cigelske, communication specialist in the Office of Marketing and Communications. At this point, people are on Facebook, they’re on Twitter, they use YouTube, and we go to our audience — not tell our audience where to go.”

Other students are content with the current social media efforts.

“Social and academic life should be kept separate,” said Tim Kendzior, a freshman in the College of Business Administration. “If I wanted to … get information, I would check the existing group pages or the MU website.”

Linda Menck, a professional in residence in the College of Communication, advocates the current Marquette social networking efforts and finds CampusLIVE “innovative,” but with privacy and mobile drawbacks.

“It’ll be interesting to watch … (its reception),” Menck said. “And that’s part of the excitement of living now — to see these things, evaluate them and see if they catch on or not.”

Article by Kara Chiuchiarelli

Special to the Tribune