In the midst of a pandemic, no one could have predicted that a student-run, unaffiliated University of Connecticut Instagram meme page would be the spot for breaking news and community bonding. Now, @uconnmemery has over 10,000 followers and wants to support all UConn students the best they can.
The @uconnmemery admin, who wished to be anonymous for this article, said they started the page in Nov. 2019 purely for funny UConn meme content. When the pandemic started, they started to post COVID-19 related news to help inform fellow students. Currently, the news to memes ratio is about half and half, depending on the news day.
“As a student myself, I realized it was getting increasingly difficult to sift through all the information and stay properly informed,” they said. “I figured this would be a great chance to help other Huskies because of my already established follower base and ability to inform people a large amount of people quickly.”
At first, the @uconnmemery admin said they posted whatever news-based content they wanted. Since their following has expanded, they try to limit speculative information and put out disclaimers when necessary. The admin said they use a variety of measures to cultivate their content, ranging from researching websites, emailing certain departments, reading the UConn subreddit and having students directly messaging information.
“Sometimes finding information takes some digging, and other times students are able to provide it to me since some people know things that I do not, and it is very helpful when they share,” the admin said. “I always try to ask for proof, but if the student cannot provide any, I make sure to put a disclaimer that it may not be true, but student submitted news is actually more accurate than I would have originally thought.”
@uconnmemery said that student direct messages to the account help keep the page running.
“It is incredibly helpful when students send me information or news to report,” the admin said. “I cannot thank them enough because they are a big reason I am able to do what I do. I try to keep my DMs very open, responsive and friendly for anyone that needs a platform or has something insightful to share.”
The admin said they think @uconnmemery has become a helpful platform for UConn students for news because they are not limited “by bureaucratic delays or wording.” Despite their speed, they said they actively work towards not spreading false rumors, properly researching and will make any and all corrections, if needed, as soon as possible.
“The amount of public support people have shown for the page is so amazing and heart-warming…I am so happy I am able to be the one that brings the UConn community together through laughs and information.”@uconnmemery admin
Although the admin believes that UConn has had moderate success with communicating to its undergraduate population, they said that students turn to @uconnmemery because of its organization.
“In my opinion, UConn is not doing a terrible job communicating, but it has definitely not been the best,” the admin said. “Having countless different departments also makes communication more difficult and confusing, especially with how much there is to tell. I wish the UConn community did not need me as a source, but since I have decided to use my platform to help and inform people, I am going to do it the best I can.”
In addition to memes and news, the admin said they also use the page to bring students together, whether it be hosting questions and answers sessions via their stories or organizing a roommate finder for freshman before move-in. They believe that their wide nature of content has led to positive feedback from fans.
“The amount of public support people have shown for the page is so amazing and heart-warming,” they said. “I am so happy I am able to be the one that brings the UConn community together through laughs and information.”
The admin said that, as a whole, people have been thankful to see news being featured on the Instagram page. They have received messages from students saying that the news content might insight panic, but they believe that “being informed is more important than anything.” They try to eliminate panic by maintaining their research methods, disclaimers and corrections.
“I have received so many thank yous from people telling me how much they use my page to stay informed and find out information they would not have been able to find otherwise,” they said. “Initially, I noticed this especially from incoming freshmen, who were the most lost out of all of us.”
The @uconnmemery admin said that they would have never predicted that the account would reach almost 11,000 followers in under a year. They said they are happy that people are enjoying the content.
“I am not sure where this account will go in the future, but I am really excited to see what it can do,” the admin said.
The @uconnmemery admin said their followers are one of the reasons why the page can stay active. They advised that anyone who has information, questions or news can reach out by directly messaging the Instagram page.
“I just want to say thank you to all my followers that support me and keep me going,” the admin said. “It means the world! Some people refer to me as this ‘all-knowing Radio Rebel’ like persona, which I appreciate and makes me laugh, but at the end of the day, I am a student just like you.”
Thumbnail photo courtesy of @uconnmemery on Instagram.