Instagram Contest to Highlight “Humans of the U”

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((Photo courtesy of Gaby Zumaeta) Pictured is Carlos Rivera, who was photographed as part of the “Humans of the U” initiative on campus.)

By Carolyn Webber

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((Photo courtesy of Gaby Zumaeta) Pictured is Carlos Rivera, who was photographed as part of the "Humans of the U" initiative on campus.)
((Photo courtesy of Gaby Zumaeta) Pictured is Carlos Rivera, who was photographed as part of the “Humans of the U” initiative on campus.)

 

While the “Humans of New York” blog is building a sense of community in the big city, a “Humans of the U” Facebook page is doing the same on campus.

Tyler McDaniel, a junior in mathematics and sociology, currently runs the page. It began as “Voices of Salt Lake” in November 2013, but he decided to focus on the U’s campus and changed the name.

McDaniel’s group was slow to start, with about 100 followers after one year. Then “Humans of Salt Lake City” teamed up with them and helped to double the numbers in a couple of days. Now, with more than 500 followers, McDaniel said the Facebook group continues to grow. He has been happy with the success up to this point, saying the page unites campus.

“In general, social media is very self-centered,” he said. “You get on and think about yourself. All ‘Humans of’ groups are examples of how social media can actually build a sense of community.”

Since Humans of New York has gained popularity, it’s no wonder that another group on campus, the First Year Council with ASUU, had a similar idea to make a “Humans of the U” group. Amy Loret, a freshman in biology and member of the First Year Council, said when they heard about McDaniel’s page, they decided to work together.

From Feb. 2 to the 13, the council will host a “Humans of the U” photo contest through Instagram. A “best-of-the-week” photo will be chosen by the council, and winners will receive a $50 gift card to Amazon. Loret said each person who posts with #HumansoftheU will have their name placed in a raffle to win prizes from University Credit Union, the U Campus Store and other companies.

Mohan Sudabattula, a freshman in biology, was one of the council members who contributed to the idea of a two-week “Humans of the U” project.

“Our aim is to find people that we feel need to be recognized,” he said. “We want to spotlight people with interesting backgrounds, stories and passions.”

Each day during the event, the council will be posting their own “Humans of the U” story. Sudabattula said finding unknown stories and people was difficult, but through nominations by students, they now have two weeks worth of individuals to spotlight.

McDaniel and other members of the Facebook group find stories by taking out their cameras and approaching people. Once they mention “Humans of New York,” McDaniel said people seem to open up. He has enjoyed discovering personal connections with people he has just met, and said he’s had some very random conversations, but meaningful experiences.

“You never know what people are going to tell you when you start asking them questions,” he said.

The council wants to keep to this spirit and not just highlight the typical student. Sudabattula is excited for every “outstanding individual” they find. They hope the hype for the two week project will spike an interest in McDaniel’s ongoing Facebook page.

“It could crash and burn if nothing happens,” Sudabattula said. “Or, once the ball goes rolling it will keep rolling.”

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