Pro by Anika Yoder | Managing Editor & Co-Online Editor
The University of Indianapolis launched its community-exclusive mobile app in 2019, according to UIndy 360. The app had only been around for a year during my time as a freshman, but what is now the UIndy Channel on the app was used as a way for students to introduce themselves to campus and make connections with people outside or within their majors. As a student coming in fresh from quarantine, one of the only ways to connect or access information about things was by posting or scrolling through the forum. The UINDY app is beneficial for the Greyhound community because it allows for students to interact with one another and keep up-to-date with what is going on around campus.
According to UIndy 360, the app was launched on August 20 in 2019 in its beta stage, but over the past four years since its launch, the app has been used for students to ask questions publically and let the student body and staff know about events on campus. Things like Lecture/Performance and campus events were, and still are, posted on the UIndy Channel. The app is simply used as a way for people to learn what is happening on campus as it applies to them.
Being a new student on campus is something that every college kid experiences, where they must navigate entering into a new social and academic environment. But with tools like a university-exclusive app to help locate basic information literally in their hands, students are able to not only find their way around campus, but also find any information they might be looking for to answer a school-related question. I personally have had to look on the UIndy Channel a number of times to figure out where an event is being held, or if there was any particular discourse over something happening on campus.
However, with open discourse often comes an opportunity for escalation, and this is an understandable and important discussion to have about online forums like the UIndy Channel. Debate is an important facet of not just learning, but a valuable component of what it means to attend an institution of higher education. In a 2020 Opinion article from The Reflector titled “Student feed on the UIndy app breeds toxicity, affects community at large” a student responded to tension surrounding the campus community on the UIndy feed at the time. Then-Feature Editor Lucy Fields said, “Social media is just as much a public forum as face-to-face conversation and requires just as much care, if not more,” and I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment. Going into the school year right out of global lockdown, along with the mass tensity Black Lives Matter movement protests of the summer, into the heat of a national presidential election was definitely an unforgettable experience amplified by social media for many people.
I would argue, however, that despite the discourse and truly problematic content produced on the platform (which was not exclusive to the UIndy app) people were showing the campus exactly what their thoughts were. This is not to say that any of the hate speech and harassment and harmful flooding of comment sections was justified, but like the article was discussing, you may see student users on campus or in class as their “usernames” are just their names with the school. I think that is a crucial part of the argument when it comes to the people who are posting and talking about hot-button topics. Particularly in times like these, discourse must happen to effect change, and of course, moderating through an administrative entity when it comes to a school-specific platform is important and needs to happen to dissuade hateful speech and harassment.
It is also important to remember the UINDY app serves as more than just a forum to post anything students want to. It also serves as a portal to the online learning system Brightspace, allows access to a student’s schedule for the day and provides class registration and information. Opening the app you can see an icon for the campus map, and then another button for a student concern form through the Student Solution Center. To the top left corner of the home page is an icon for scanning QR codes at L/P events to check in and out and at the top right corner is a badge icon for emergency contact information as well as a call button. Going to the pavilion icon at the bottom of the screen leads to what is labeled as Helpful Links which provide links to the academic calendar, events, departments and offices, the Student Counseling Center, the UIndy Directory and more.
The app also provides dining information as well as a link to Handshake if you want to look into campus or community job openings all from the app. The notifications section shows not just what students have posted but announcements from IT, the Office of Student Affairs and the UIndy police department. On top of that, a student’s personal profile shows their billing account balance and their academic records for the terms they have attended.
Overall, the app is a more useful tool than it is a nuisance. Respectful discourse as well as consolidated, important and personal information for students on a university app t is an asset to students. Being able to see the opinions of your peers and the people you are seeing around campus every day is beneficial for many reasons. We can not just sit around talking to walls about issues that affect campus, we have to encourage conversations whether in person or on a place like the UIndy Channel. And if all else fails and you have to turn off the notifications, at least you can access a job application in a little over 30 seconds. Give or take.
Con by Arrianna Gupton | Editorial Assistant
Before starting my freshman year at the University of Indianapolis, I did all I could to fully immerse myself in the college experience. I researched different clubs on campus, learned about the different dorms and scoured UIndy’s web pages in order to find out all I could before arriving for my first semester. Somehow or another, I found myself downloading the UINDY App on my phone. I thought the app would be a great way to discover more about the university and, potentially, find new friends. Although I thought the app was useful at first, it pretty much goes ignored and collects metaphorical dust on my phone now. The UINDY App is not very useful and is a breeding ground for drama and division.
According to the Apple App Store, the UINDY App is a convenient way for students on campus to connect with the UIndy Community via notifications about events such as Watchdog safety announcements. As far as being able to connect with the UIndy community goes, I find the app to be sort of counterproductive in the sense. Every now and then students do post about conversational topics, but more often than not, I find some of the posts to be “spammy” or pointless. My biggest issue with the app is that posts about events or announcements coming from the university tend to get drowned out due to the sea of random and non-helpful posts. The Apple App Store description of the application also states that the in-app calendar is designed to help students keep track of assignments, classes, important dates and deadlines. I wish that there was a way to automatically have Brightspace and the UINDY App to link so that due dates automatically populate the calendar. The way that the calendar works feels extremely bare-bones and simplistic right now. I do not think that inherently makes the feature bad though, I just think that there are planners out there that better suit my needs. I also can not personally recall a time when I received a Watchdog notification through the app. In fact, when I searched the term “Watchdog” in the app, the results were mostly posts about students complaining about the system.
On top of it all, the app tends to be buggy, especially when the app sends me several notifications about a single post. This was the “nail in the app’s coffin” for me, as once the app started spamming me with repeat notifications, I slowly started paying less and less attention to it. The app has also crashed several times when I have tried to use it.
The only time I find myself using it now is when random campus drama is suddenly plaguing the app. Every semester—like clockwork—since I began my time at the university, there has been at least one or two incidents of gossip or drama on the app. For the most part, the drama is usually petty gossip outpouring from friend group infighting, but every now and then there are much larger blowouts on the app. I have personally seen racist and inflammatory comments on the app. Also, whenever there is something big going on in the world—like the recent changes to abortion laws in Indiana—the app seems to become a place of division where hate and animosity quickly become the norm.
I wish the UINDY App lived up to what it was designed to be, but in my opinion, the app just falls short. I do not think the app is all bad, though, as there have been plenty of times I have found out about something important on campus. For the most part, the app just tends to be a jumble of memes, notifications about mini fridges for sale and other vague posts about seemingly random things. I think if the app were a bit more refined, organized and drama-free, I would definitely be willing to use it more. However, as it stands right now, I am completely fine without it.