This week I have the phenomenal experience of attending my first ever Association for College and University Housing Officers – International Conference in Washington D.C. ACUHO-I “provides members with innovative, value-driven events, publications, research, career services, and online professional development as well as valuable networking opportunities. We help our members evolve themselves and their institutions in their efforts to provide their residents dynamic living environments.” In preparing to be immersed in the world of campus housing professionals, I had the natural instinct to wonder what best practices in social media engagement I could find at various universities. Compared to my undergraduate experience of meeting my roommate over the telephone and through mailing letters, times have certainly changed for students who have a myriad of social media resources through campus housing. I have identified a multitude of dynamic initiatives used by housing and residence life professionals to connect with their students on campus, as well as new and incoming students.
Some of the best examples include:
The Division of University Housing at the University of Wisconsin Madison offers students an option filled Social Media Portal “to connect with parents, residents and employees in order to fulfill our mission to be the place where everyone wants to live.” Students on their campus can post photos, share videos, and engage their staff and residential community all via social media.
Valdosta State University offered a unique Instagram contest for their on campus students. Students won gift cards for three categories which included hashtags such as “What Are You Thankful For”, “Pay It Forward” to celebrate good deeds, and “Cram Session” to share posts about studying for finals.
Wright state university housing hosts an opening weekend Scavenger Hunt. Complete with it’s own Scavenger Hunt website, students can use their Instagram accounts and tag pictures from various campus locations with #wsuscavenge as a way to become more integrated on campus. Teams are composed of different residential areas.
University Housing at the University of Georgia offers multiple social media outlets including the Live it UGA Blog which gives residents news, updates on programming and residence hall events on topics such as Sustainability, Move-In, how to get involved, and other campus housing resources.
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Housing and Residence Life offers a YouTube Channel with a campus living video, promotional video and other videos designed to engage students in their new residence hall. IUPUI- HRL also offers students options to connect via Facebook and Twitter and hosted a #Selfie contest with prizes during contract renewals last spring.
As students have changed, and the need for a more robust campus housing experience has evolved, so have the methods and systems for communication with residents. Offering students choices to connect through social media, as well as using various mediums to send messaging increases the viability of living on campus and expands the opportunity to shape student learning. Campus housing impacts students far beyond the aesthetic of nice facilities. One of the strongest ways to share this message is through continuing best practices like those