Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Me-me Me-me Me...

Ladies and gentlemen, a new studying avoidance technique is proliferating on our campuses. Chances are, you've had a laugh or two at any number of institution based meme pages. They've proven that anyone with an Internet connection can make a silly reference to an inside campus joke or, as is the case with many of the FSU Memes I've seen, make a joke at the expense of a rival institution. (Please note: URI Memes, noting its own poor sports performance, does not get to indulge in the latter.)

But as professionals, these memes are more than just a way to see what our students think of us and our work. It is a window to the view that students have of the institution they attend. They can provide insight into the strength of our work, and an idea of how strong traditions and values are on our campus. In the case of Florida State, we were pleased to see that Breakfast for a Buck, one of our longer-running Student Activities events, merited a positive meme. I say positive, because that's not the case with all of the memes that are created. Just as memes could be a sign that the work we do is meaningful, it could be a gateway to our students true concerns.

Granted, some of them are concerns that we may not be able to offer simple solutions to (See: any meme pertaining to parking). However, some of the issues being voiced by students via what they see as seemingly innocuous posts (dining options, fears about fraternities, misunderstandings surrounding faculty or campus processes and groups) can be addressed now that students are voicing them in a lighthearted manner.

So as you wonder just how many observations can be hilariously transformed into a comparison by a squinting Philip J. Fry, or a judging Willy Wonka (my personal favorite, I must admit), take the opportunity to turn the soft giggle into a louder "hmmm", and look at these expressions as an opportunity to effect change with your students.