Student vlogger series connects students to campus life while pandemic continues

Media Credit: Photo Illustration by Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

The University is embracing nontraditional means of engaging with prospective students and alumni through three student campus vloggers.

Three students living on campus this semester are connecting with off-campus students, alumni and prospective students as the University’s official campus vloggers.

The Office of Student Life launched the “Connect to Campus” student video blog series last semester following Maansi Srivastava, Anne Laurie Joseph and Eddie Micheletti’s daily lives attending GW during the pandemic. The vloggers, short film makers who document parts of their life, said the program has helped current and prospective students learn about their life on campus during remote learning. 

University spokesperson Crystal Nosal said the students have sought to produce new vlogs on the University websites and social media platforms at least every other week since it launched in October. She said each vlog averages about 9,500 views across the University’s three platforms – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – where they are posted.

She said the University has received positive feedback overall from students, including alumni who have commented on the vlogs reminiscing about their own campus experiences, like seeing snow for the first time. 

“The name of the series means exactly that – we want to make GW students feel connected to campus,” Nosal said in an email. “We realized early on in the fall that it would be important to show our students what life at GW and around D.C. is like. This is especially those first-year and transfer students who still haven’t been on campus because of this unprecedented pandemic.”

The vlogs are shared through the GW Today newsletter when they are published.

Srivastava, a photojournalism major and Hatchet photographer, said she has filmed five different vlogs this academic year for the program, focusing on topics like her first day of school, self-care tips she practices and advice for studying during finals week.

In Srivastava’s most recent vlog earlier this month, she detailed the University’s COVID-19 safety guidelines as she walked viewers through her experience and process moving back onto campus. She said she lived at home in Wilmington, Delaware, during the fall semester where she filmed her first three vlogs, which was difficult because her dog was often barking in the background and she was juggling a full course load.

“It definitely had its own difficulties,” she said. “But I think it all worked out in the end.”

Srivastava, also a University photographer, said members of the Marketing and Creative Services office asked her to film the vlogs, being the only student who worked in the office. She said she was excited to share her life with viewers, also recruiting Joseph, her friend, as another vlogger for the program.

Srivastava said vloggers pitch their own ideas based on recommendations from student viewers and the creative services team before filming the three-to-four minute long videos. She said she and the team exchange ideas, but once the team has approved a vlog theme, she can decide the shots, with a few reshoots depending on the needs of the publishing team. 

She said that she’s received compliments from students through her personal social media accounts about her videos. She added that some students have even reached out to her asking how they could become a vlogger.

“When people DM me, I am like, ‘Oh my god, hi. I do go to GW with you. This is really cool,’” Srivastava said. “Lots of the time it’s usually nice things, not on the Insta that you messaged, but on my more personal one people will be like ‘Oh my god can we see one of your plants or can we see one about your room.’ And I’ll be like ‘Oh my god that’s such a good idea, and I’ll pitch that to GW.’”

Joseph, a sophomore and student vlogger living on campus, said one of her favorite vlogs she filmed last semester was the city’s reaction to President Joe Biden’s election in November. She said the mood felt through campus was energetic as she and her friends joined a celebration in Black Lives Matter Plaza.

Joseph said students have reached out to her about the vlogs, asking for advice on making friends, the move-in process, food options and well-known campus spots for students who have not yet been to campus. She said the series might not continue next academic year as more students return to campus, but she hopes the series will continue into next year as college vlogging nationally grows to attract prospective students.

“Personally, before I came to GW, I never came to campus, so everything I learned about GW was either through their website or through their virtual tours or through YouTube channels,” Joseph said.

Joseph said the videos can connect students who may feel lonely at home to life at GW or who are interested in learning more about campus life, which she sees as the ultimate goal of the program. She said she joined the team already feeling comfortable with the film and editing process because she had already published videos on YouTube. 

“Having this platform, specifically for me, it gives me a way to show GW or show prospective students the stuff I wish I had seen before coming to campus,” Joseph said. “And I do think it actually is making an impact.”

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