By Kelly Corbett
Social Media Editor
On Wednesday, Sept. 23, students received devastating news either firsthand or via social media that meal equivalency, the sacred hours between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. meant for nourishing students’ tummies with $7.50 of free non-Eickhoff hall food, was indeed down.
One social media app flooded with posts about this lunchtime atrocity, but it wasn’t Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. It was Yik Yak. Two things occurred to me after scrolling through the 200 characters or less posts crafted by the minds of hungry students. First, I couldn’t get a cinnamon raisin bagel or caramel iced coffee for free — absolutely awful.
More importantly, this whole occurrence was headlining on an anonymous social media app. Probably within a minute of employees giving the lunchtime crowd word that meal equivalency was not working, students had already reported to the College’s Yik Yak community that they would not be getting their free chicken caesar salad or pumpkin spice latte that day.
Students all across campus could scroll through these posts reading, “DEVELOPING STORY: MEAL EQUIV IS DOWN ALL OVER CAMPUS,” “I live off of meal equiv so I might just shrivel up and die at this point” and “MEAL EQUIV IS DOWN EVERYWHERE ZOMBIEAPOCALYSECJUDYLGBF” and they would know to rearrange their lunchtime plans.
Nothing was posted on the TCNJ Dining Services Facebook page or Twitter, or the TCNJ Meal Equiv Twitter account — I mean, I guess it wasn’t an emergency. We’re just overly dramatic students. Even if the College had posted about it, how many students would have even read it before they journeyed to the Brower Student Center or library with empty stomachs and their student IDs clutched in their hands, ready to swipe? Not many.
All three of these social media accounts run by the College each have less than 1,000 followers. And even if these accounts had posted a note, it would be buried among other posts from other accounts and friends that students follow.
This means that Yik Yak was the number one news source in spreading word about this situation. The social media app, often brimming with posts about campus cutie sightings, disapproval of Eickhoff Dining Hall food and unicycle guy spottings, is now the CNN of the College’s community.
In this bubble community of 18 to 23 year olds, students are receiving their campus news mostly through the anonymous posts of other students. We have a student newspaper (in fact, you’re reading it right now) and multiple social media accounts affiliated with the College, but nothing seems more appealing to students than short blurbs of information that could very well be false.
Students prefer reading one or two sentenced yaks over reading verified news articles. Maybe it’s the appeal of how brief a yak is or how easily accessible it is on a student’s smartphone, but how can students be delivered accurate, credible news with the quickness of Yik Yak?
Students want to know what is going on right at the moment, what Eickhoff hall is serving for dinner or what event is going on in the Decker Social Space at the moment. They’re trusting an app whose icon is a hairy cartoon yak.
This app, often filled with humorous posts, relatable college student posts and, unfortunately, hate-filled posts (yikes) is now a news source for the millennial student. But the real question is, as this app garners popularity, will it start to take priority over the original news sources on campus? Slim chance, yes. But, gosh, let’s hope not or else my journalism pals and I are out of a gig.
Students share opinions around campus
“Word of mouth (is best). No one really goes on (Yik Yak anymore). I know a lot of people in sororities, fraternities and sports teams, that’s how I find out a lot of things.”
“I feel people find out through other people on campus. Word of mouth is quickest.”