Friday, Sep 21 2018

Campus Connect: The Definitive Social Experience

Campus Connect: The Definitive Social Experience

            As OWeek comes to an end, students often find themselves in the midst of shifting gears as professors pile on required readings and assignments on top of everyone’s infinite list of obligations. However, Western and Fanshawe students, along with those attending the local affiliated colleges, can now look forward to the re-invention of the post-secondary social experience with the release of the Campus Connect app early next week.

            From dating to socializing, studying to athletics, users can expect to find a wide range of ways to make new connections with ease. Hussein “Sam” Chams, a second-year Political Science student at King’s, is the app’s fearless and innovative CEO. Alongside Sam, Brandon Ryu, a second-year BMOS student also at King’s, acts as the app’s COO. With great knowledge and excitement, both Chams and Ryu demonstrated the functional wireframe model of Campus Connect.

            So, how does it work? Upon entering the application for the first time, users are prompted to input their institute, program, and school email addresses in order to begin building their own personal profiles. Users may also upload their own profile pictures to make their connecting experience even more personal. While this information will be visible to others utilizing the networking platform, there are a series of privacy settings that can be tweaked so that users can choose to only reveal the information that they feel comfortable sharing with others. After that, it’s off to making new connections!

            Hitting the search button is all it takes to start making your way into a brand-new circle of friends or find a new buddy to introduce to your own. Campus Connect’s search feature allows its users to find other members on the app either by name or via its integrated filtration system. Depending on your interests, the app’s unique filtering system allows you to find the perfect match by ranking its user’s search results on their particular interests, and the types of the connections they desire to make. For clarity and ease, each name found by the search engine is given a percentage score out of 100, bringing a user’s closest matches to the forefront.

            Though there’s nothing wrong with chatting with a new friend online, Campus Connect wants to encourage its users to meet face-to-face in real life. With this in mind, the developing team has integrated a promotions page to make meeting up for studying and socials easy and cost-effective. These promotions typically feature a number of places to eat or hang-out that offer a discount for the night. Much like the search engine, the promotions page will also feature a filtration system, allowing users to choose a distance radius in order to find great deals at nearby restaurants. However, if you still prefer online conversation, users are also able to create both public and private group chats, send photos, and even suggest meeting locations. When you download Campus Connect, you can anticipate a ton of neat features, such as the in-app reminders, which help students to stay on top of important deadlines, such as their tuition fees, due dates, and the class drop-out deadline. With goals of engagement and social interaction, Campus Connect truly seeks to ensure that all campuses in London, ON are sites of network and relationships.

            When asked what inspired him to develop the idea for Campus Connect, Chams explains that he wanted to find a way to ease high school students into the university experience during the first year of undergrad. “During my OWeek experience, I found myself struggling to connect with some of my peers to a certain extent,” Chams explains. “I’d like to say that I’m a pretty social guy but coming into university for the first time is a little nerve-wracking for anybody.”

            Chams makes an important point about living off-campus, as it can be even harder to form relationships with your peers: “When you’re an off-campus student living at home, chances are you’re still living with your parents. As a result, most OC students aren’t able to socialize in many of the same ways first-year students living on campus do.” In a sense, on-campus students seem to be at a greater social advantage, as “most on-campus students seem to be able to immediately become acquainted with their new room and floor-mates, getting the low-down on parties, social events, and other gatherings that off-campus students may not have access to.” Passionate about campus involvement and inclusion, Chams goes on to say, “I decided to come up with my own way to get people to interact and get involved around the Western community.”

            The team at Campus Connect is also dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues within the London community, specifically in relation to eating disorders amongst post-secondary students. While the numbers remain unknown, a CBC article published in 2016 explains that eating disorders are amongst the most common mental health issues. The director of the Nutrition Education Centre at UBC Okanagan, Sally Willis-Stewart labeled campuses as a “breeding ground” for these disorders (CBC News, 2016). With this in mind, Chams formally announced that a portion of the future profits generated from Campus Connect’s in-app advertising and promotions would be donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in Middlesex, ON. The application is even pre-loaded with a number of different resources and guides that are accessible by students who sign-up in order to assist them in seeking help with any issues they face.

            While Western, Huron, King’s, Brescia, and Fanshawe College are the only schools in which Campus Connect is currently available, Chams is hoping to expand beyond London in the near future in order to get the app into the hands of other students. For now, the app is only available to the restless fingers over at Western and Fanshawe and is available to download for free early next week. If you haven’t already, mark your calendar to get the app either on the iPhone App store or the Google Play store soon!