Wednesday, April 18 2012
O-Week 2012 revealed the University’s new obsession with social media. While a boost to club funding saw an abundance of freebies and events on campus, communication between the university bodies and commencing students appeared to be the University’s focus.
The now one-year-old “First Year at Melbourne” Facebook page went into overdrive from January, with new students using the wall to consult on subject choices and discuss reasons behind mysterious Portal crashes. The push to move orientation info online has been occurring for two years with 2012 undergrad students receiving host group and O-Week details by email only. The Student Union, clubs and societies, and the university at large also hit Twitter, with the official Melbourne Uni page reaching 11,000 followers.
However, several first years told Farrago that online communication with the university was difficult, and that they were unsure how to meet their host group or how to prioritise activities. The shift to social media communication assists interstate and international students, but questions posed to the university’s Facebook and Twitter accounts reveal that many students were confused by, or failed to receive, email communications.
Campus activities also appear to have been geared towards ‘New Generation’ undergraduates with graduate and mature age student events getting less publicity. The Graduate Student Association ran events specific to grads in the first week of uni, but communication between individual graduate schools and students was again an integral factor in determining student’s readiness for uni.
One student beginning in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences told Farrago that schools should note that O-Week info for graduate students is just as important as for undergrads. “The only email I got was about my Masters orientation lecture, and even that came pretty late. I’ve done undergrad at this uni, but you’d think they’d let you know about graduate specific activities, and enrolment requirements; it is a different situation.”
The extra $200,000 in funding to clubs and societies from the Student Services and Amenities Fee also resulted in bigger budgets to represent smaller groups of students. The Mature Age Student Network, 23+, jumped to maximize the reach of their programs for students with different interests to younger undergrads. Their events, focusing on professional networking and social interaction between students over 23, aim to support those returning to study and who may have been neglected in the O-Week line up.