First-Year Tweets About Life Up the Hill

Claire O'Hara

Students who frequent the Colgate University web page have noticed a change. No, it is not new scenic pictures on the slideshow, or a change from the traditional maroon backdrop. The lower right hand corner of the screen is now home to one of technologies newest innovations, and it’s all about “tweeting.”

The Colgate Twitter is an example of a new breed of communication technology called the microblog. Colgate’s twitter is made up over one hundred one-line, real-time updates or “tweets,” about the life of first-year Ajay Chahar, a Benton Scholar and a future physics major from India.

Colgate is one of the first colleges in the nation to have a twitter. The aim of the web page is to offer prospective students an accurate vision of what life at Colgate is actually about, from the midnight slices to the three papers all due on the same day.

“It’s a way to give an inside look of what happens on campus. Instead of typing whole sorts of huge blog entries, it’s just status updates,” Chahar said.

It is one part of our main effort to give a snapshot of what it’s like to be at college,” Director of Web Content, Tim O’Keeffe said.

While Chahar did have prior experience with tweeting, his knowledge wasn’t the only reason he was chosen to be the subject of this innovative project.

“It’s a whole lot of reasons — being a Benton Scholar, an international student, and then me being absolutely hyper and absolutely loving Colgate…everything fell into place, but basically just because I’m crazy,” Chahar said.

O’Keeffe agreed that Chahar’s love for Colgate was a big part of why he was chosen.

“Obviously that enjoyment was something that was really appealing. He has such a range of interests — we hoped he would resonate with a lot of kids. We thought he could be just one voice of all the others we have out there,” he said.

While Colgate’s twitter is certainly an experiment, it seems to be paying off. In just three short weeks, the Colgate Twitter was viewed almost 1,300 times by non-Colgate students and 35 people are “following” the twitter (meaning they have requested alerts when Chahar adds new tweets). This positive feedback definitely seems to indicate that at least Colgate’s twitter is here to say.

“People are trying to think of innovative uses for it and this is our first attempt. I’m sure it will transform and meld…but I definitely don’t think it’s going away any time soon,” O’Keeffe said.

Part of the success of the twitter is based in the fact that it is so easy to use.

“You can do it a number of ways — with public computers, iPhones, cell phones. It adds to the cool factor; [Chahar] can update standing in line for something, or coming out of an event. It’s just like updating your status on Facebook, but in another format,” O’Keeffe said.

For Chahar, “tweeting” is just another part of his busy life at Colgate. Interestingly however, a conversation that started with a discussion of “tweeting,” some how resulted in a discussion about Colgate. Chahar says, “Tweeting is really about me being super hyper about Colgate. Colgate for me is not just a college, it’s more like a home to me. I just absolutely love Colgate.”