Boston University students began reaching out to prospective students via Facebook and Twitter after BU Admissions officials canceled the Open House programs scheduled for Friday and Saturday due to the citywide stay-inside request, officials said.
BU Digital Marketing, Social Media and Community Manager Gordon Ryan said he posted on social media sites alerting users of the cancelation and encouraged current students to communicate with prospective students online in lieu of Open House programs.
“I was planning on reaching out to our social media team that works for the [Admissions] Reception Center, which consists of Admissions Ambassadors and student staff, to get them involved with talking to people online,” Ryan said.
Students had already begun reaching out to students on Facebook and Twitter by the time he encouraged them to do so, Ryan said. Most tweets exchanged between BU students and prospective students contained the hashtag #BU2017.
“They [BU students] had independently started [talking to prospective students], and they were doing it on Facebook, and it started taking off,” he said. “I started pushing people to Twitter as well, and it really took off from there.”
Ryan said he compiled a Google Drive document of over 450 BU students and alumni who were willing to talk to accepted students. The document listed each student’s name, major, graduation year and contact information, so prospective students could talk to students similar to themselves.
On Friday, BU Admissions officials posted a link to the Google Drive document on the Admissions Twitter account and asked students and alumni to help answer questions and to add their names and information.
College of Arts and Sciences senior Diana Griffin was the first student to begin reaching out to students on social media on that Friday morning, Ryan said.
Griffin said she posted on the Class of 2017 Facebook page, telling students to contact her with questions.
“I answered as many questions as I could on the Facebook page, and even still, students are asking me questions if they were unable to visit,” Griffin said. “… I love this city and I didn’t want them to get the perception that this is what Boston is, because it’s not.”
CAS Dean’s Host Emily Singer said she also used social media outlets to answer prospective students’ questions.
“If I was going to Open House and it had been canceled, I would’ve had a lot of questions,” Singer, a CAS sophomore, said. “I would’ve liked someone to talk to me about it, so I just put myself out there.”
The Admissions Office and Dean’s Hosts wanted those considering BU to know that Boston is a safe place as well as a good educational atmosphere, she said.
“I told them everything was fine, and that BUPD [BU Police Department] was handling [the situation] and that Boston is a great place to come to school,” Singer said. “They thought it was really cool that we were willing to talk to people.”
Senior Student Administrative Representative Hannah Freedman, a College of Communication senior, said she also helped reach out to potential students.
“Once I found out that Admissions was closed, I could tell that people were disappointed because of what people were writing on the [BU Class of 2017 Facebook page], so I figured I might as well reach out to them,” she said.
The students who posted on social media did so voluntarily, Freedman said.
“These [social media] tools were already in place — it wasn’t like [Ryan] had to ask anyone to do these things,” she said. “All of the students were already on Twitter and Facebook talking to admitted students.”
Freedman said she was impressed with the BU community’s proactive reaction to the cancelation of Open House programs.
“It really speaks to the community he [Ryan] built, that in this moment of crisis, people felt that the natural thing to do was to jump online and start talking to people,” she said.
BU Admissions officials have rescheduled the Open House programs to take place April 26 and April 27, according to the Admissions website.