Rebranding how we care

Elika Roohi/Sun Star Editor-in-Chief
September 11, 2012

In the past two weeks, I’ve read a lot of Sun Star editorials from the recent past in an effort to absorb some wisdom from previous editors.  Student apathy at UAF seems to be a common gripe of Sun Star editors.

We want you to read our newspaper that a devoted staff pours a ton of work into every week, we want you to vote in student elections and we want you to write us thoughtful letters to the editor.

And when that doesn’t happen, we chalk it up to student apathy at UAF.  Something about this campus lends itself to a student population that seems to only be sticking it out for their diploma.  It’s something I’ve dealt with.  College can sometimes just feel like a means to an end.  I’ve been ready to finish school since I started, and honestly, it’s all I can do to drag myself to class most of the time.

But the “#inspire” graffiti that keeps appearing around campus seems to believe in the students of UAF a little bit more than that.  According to Andrew Cassel, UAF’s multimedia coordinator, the “#inspire” tag is giving a label to the feeling we all have about this university.

“Naturally Inspiring” and “#inspire” are the Marketing Department’s updates on UAF’s old slogan of “Is {it} for you?”  Personally, I think college admissions marketing schemes are always verging on cheesy.  As a 17-year-old sitting in my kitchen deciding on which college to attend, the vague-ness of the “{it}” in UAF’s old slogan didn’t exactly win me over.  I doubt “#inspire” would get me either.

If you sit down and talk to the marketing department they’ll explain their inspiration.  “There’s something here that we all love,” Cassel said.  Whether we’re mindlessly working toward our piece of paper that means we can work as a college graduate or actively engaged in different student organizations, clubs and groups, we’re all here right now and the odds are good there is something around here that we love.

I have been impressed by UAF’s superb social media presence, however.  Cassel has taken over UAF’s online media and has completely transformed it in the last 18 months. With Cassel’s hard work, UAF recently passed a total 10,000 followers on all social media platforms.  “We have found our voice in the world,” Cassel said.

The Sun Star is the voice for the students of UAF.  Last year the Sun Star interviewed 371 students.  That’s 371 of students that cared.  Three hundred and seventy-one students who had something to say about a concert or a fee hike or a lecture series.  It doesn’t sound like apathy to me.

When I first spotted a “Naturally Inspiring” tag outside the Wood Center in blue and yellow chalk during orientation, I scoffed a little.  The hashtags seemed cheesy, and my first impression was that it was slightly too sincere positive graffiti chalked up by a few overeager freshmen.

But every week I get to produce the paper with a group of people who cares more than I ever imagined.  I don’t expect a hashtag marketing ploy to cure apathy at UAF.  I’m sure the editor of the Sun Star will always hope for more letters to the editor and more enthusiastic readers. But assigning a label to the intangible feeling we all have about UAF when we take an excellent class or win t-shirts in a season of intramural sports might draw some of the closet enthusiasts out of hiding.

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