NYUSH – All Classes and Study Away: Community in the Era of Social Media

"Although often successful in its intended endeavors, the NYUSH Facebook group has been home to several arguments between students, ranging from fairly trivial to much stronger," OCA Contributor Matthew Cline writes, as he talks to various students about their opinions on the infamous page.

Nearly every NYU Shanghai student with Facebook, portal or study away, is a member of the “NYUSH – All Classes and Study Away” group. The group was created as a student run platform to discuss school events, vent about issues, and debate among peers. Although often successful in its intended endeavors, the NYUSH Facebook group has been home to several arguments between students, ranging from fairly trivial to much stronger. Among other criticisms, the lack of involvement by Chinese students, for various reasons, has also been raised as a question.

Aside from the informative events and opportunities provided to members, the group serves as a method for students to make complaints about problems in our school community. Most notably this has involved the recent change in cafeteria vendors. Several students have used the discussion board to ask questions about the new changes, and allow their voices to be heard in distaste for the lack of options and action to meet students’ needs.

Sophomore Fiona Chen believes that although “[the chat] is very helpful regarding smaller problems such as visas and lost and found, I don’t think it’s that effective for big complaints. Most people just roast the school without actually doing anything.” Admittedly, however, Chen is an active member of the group, and enjoys the safety of the group to complain and joke about the school, finding it a friendly environment.

Others, however, have not found the environment of the Facebook group to be as friendly. In the past, posts about everything from current events to OCA articles have sparked diatribe with heavy involvement from several members. Often times, many people are able to respect each other’s opinions, but the fear of voicing an uncommon opinion has prevented some students from openly voicing how they feel. One student, who asked to remain anonymous, says the “worry of upsetting someone or making them feel uncomfortable” has prevented them from actively participating in certain debates, adding that sometimes, it seems as though underclassmen’s opinions are not considered as serious by their older counterparts.

Freshman Tyson Upshaw shared similar concerns, acknowledging that the Facebook group has good intentions and makes it easy to communicate, but “is very toxic as students are on a social media platform, and some act as if their comments and posts do not have consequences.”  

Overall, however, Upshaw finds the group a good thing to have. Much like other students I spoke with, they believe the Facebook group is useful in that we are able to communicate with other students we may not know well in person, and gives us opportunities we otherwise wouldn’t know about. Sofia Shockman, current admin of the Facebook group, shares these positive views toward the group. For Shockman, the chat “is super helpful and allows students to talk in an open platform without faculty.” Often an inactive member of discussion posts, Shockman does agree that certain posts become problematic, resulted from a difference of opinions, “but [it’s] also kind of the purpose to have an outlet for students to voice their opinions.”  

One other issue with the group, however, is the disproportionate amount of posts from international students compared to Chinese natives. Fiona Chen, from Changsha, Hunan, attributes this largely to the fact that most of her Chinese peers do not often use their Facebook accounts. This lack of involvement in the group could lead to a unequal sharing of information among NYUSH students. This presents itself as an obstacle for some still adjusting to the intertwined cultures of our campus. Whether or not an equally-used WeChat group or another method of involvement for all students would work remains an unanswered question.

For now, despite some members’ feelings of lack of change or limited discussion, the NYUSH Facebook group remains one of the best ways for information to be shared among peers. As a whole, the group and its members serve to assist each other in and outside of the academic community. The platform allows for students to share their opinions effectively, and inspire others to be more involved in the community. For those that pay little attention to Facebook, however, the group may be seen as only one of several possibilities for including each and every student in the NYUSH community.

This article was written by Matthew Cline. Please send an email to managing@oncenturyavenue.com to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of NYKSH memes for Cosmopolitan 青少年 Facebook page

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