MTSU recently launched the Campus Life website — mtsu.edu/campuslife — as a one-stop spot for students to learn about all that campus has to offer from events, to organizations, to dining and student services information.
Surveys conducted in the fall by the Division of Student Affairs showed that students wanted to get more involved on campus but found that was often spread across multiple websites and social media pages, said Justin Reed, director of student unions.
“But they (students) were frustrated with all the different places that they had to go to find the information,” Reed said.
Jackie Victory, director of student organizations and service, added that the need for improved communication only grew with the onset of COVID-19 because pandemic updates happened so frequently.
“We learned that the virus can bring changes to programs, club meetings, dining and more at the drop of a hat,” Victory said. “We were always trying to get information to students quickly or trying to update information that might have changed. Allowing one place for those programs allows us to ensure that information that is around campus is accurate when changes happen quickly.”
Recognizing that the campus community needed a streamlined and organized place to access information, Student Affairs launched the Campus Life initiative in January, Reed said.
“Campus Life gives them a centrally located space that they can go to and find out not only about events and activities on campus (but) how to get involved in clubs and organizations, how to become a part of the student leadership teams across campus,” he said. “It’s all in one place.”
The student-centered design and configuration of the initiative sets it apart. A team of students, faculty and staff collaborated to curate calendars and pages with information students want most, Reed explained.
“We’re trying to make it really simple for students to find out where to go, what to do, where to eat,” he said.
“For example, we brought an Athletics calendar into the Campus Life page,” Reed explained. “It takes you straight to the calendar…. We put food as one of our top links because when you’re on campus, that’s a big thing. The link takes you straight to the page with all of the dining facilities and the hours that they are open.”
The team took the same approach when assembling the events and involvement calendars, too.
“When you are shopping for a school, you want to know the entire picture from academics to involvement and campus life,” she said.
The student perspective
Caroline Haynes, a Lebanon, Tennessee, native and senior agribusiness major, works with the initiative team to provide a student’s perspective and input.
“The best part about Campus Life is its purpose is to directly impact the students and make their time at MTSU the best it can be,” Haynes said. “Although Campus Life just launched, it’s already provided easier access to all things student related. When you look at our website, all the resources you could need are at a click of a button.”
Haynes highlighted the benefits of following the initiative both on the webpage and the social media accounts.
“We are hoping to have some giveaways coming up,” Haynes said. “That way we can bring in more students.… It’s easier (to follow on social) than going on the website every day to check what’s (happening) on campus. This way you can stay informed and might win something as well.”
Reed added that Instagram, especially, will update students with campus happenings in real time.
“We’re planning to use Instagram (to show) ‘This is happening right now. If you’re on campus and you’re around, come check it out,’” Reed said.
Haynes noted that students can peruse the mixture of virtual and on-campus events — such as the Winter Wonderland event, complete with a synthetic ice rink, or an upcoming free online cooking class, she said. They can learn about clubs and organizations, job and leadership postings and counseling and academic support.
“There is something for everyone,” she said.
— Stephanie Barrette (Stephanie.Barrette@mtsu.edu)