After three years navigating the College social scene, Dola Adebayo ’17 saw a problem. A lot of his peers felt lonely or lacking social options, since, even at a small school, it can be difficult to connect with people outside one’s established social circles. Fortunately, one of his friends at Amherst had also recognized this problem.
After the student uprisings at University of Missouri last year, Amherst held protests in solidarity and “it was here that the idea for Meetum was born,” Adebayo said. “A significant number of students spoke out expressing their frustration with the current state of Amherst and many of them also expressed feelings of loneliness. It became clear that this sentiment was not uncommon. Students felt isolated, walled in to their friend groups and that it was difficult to branch out and meet new people.”
During their senior spring at Amherst, Adebayo’s friend Xavier Reed, Conor Brown and Patrick DeVivo devised an innovative solution: a new app called Meetum.
According to its App Store description, Meetum is “an event driven social networking app that creates private networks for student bodies and other verifiable groups where within your network(s) you can openly share any events/activities (meetums) to your greater community and attend others, simplifying meeting new people and helping to bridge gaps between social groups.”
Anyone can join the College’s network on Meetum with a valid Williams email address. Then people can post events and opportunities as they come up, anything “from the smallest, most spontaneous and casual events to large, formally organized meetings,” Adebayo said. The app serves as a “live and running feed” that offers new things to do and new ways to meet people within the College community.
Meetum has already been incredibly successful at Amherst, where, in the app’s first two months of operation last spring, more than half of Amherst’s student body registered and more than 300 events were posted, Adebayo said. Events ranged from “‘kickin’ the soccer ball around on the quad — come hang’ to bigger events like a cappella shows, clubs meetings [and] performances,” he said. “Of course, everything in between, like parties, athletic events and study groups were included.”
Not only did Meetum help improve communication about fun events at Amherst, but, even in its first few months of existence, “Meetum helped move Amherst’s campus culture into one of more inclusivity, openness and acceptance,” Adebayo said.“I genuinely believe this can work for us here at Williams.”
The open and often immediate nature of meetums is more conducive to meeting people than the ways students have organized parties and other events in the past, Adebayo said.
When event invitations are limited to Facebook friends, “you are not able to reach the larger community the way you’d like,” he said. “It can be difficult to branch out; usually you’re not reaching anyone you don’t already know. With Meetum, not only do you reach the entire Williams network when they check the app, but you can also send a notification directly to their phones.”
The nature of Meetum makes it perfect for inviting people to a spontaneous gathering, casual party or other social opportunity.
“Facebook events are not necessarily efficient for ‘A lot of leftover Hot Tomatoes at Dodd’ or ‘Playing basketball behind Mission at 3:30 and could use a few more [people] to run a full game,’” he said.
Adebayo spent the beginning of people senior fall semester reaching out to friends at the College to gauge interest about Meetum.
“I would ask friends of mine, ‘What do you think of an app that includes a live feed of almost anything going on at Williams throughout the day, or even the week?’” he said. “They believed it was a great idea for a campus that consisted of over 2000 students but still seemed a bit divided socially.”
Adebayo had friends download the app to test its functionality with College emails and promoting events at the College. The app is available for free and accessible on the College network, as well as networks for other colleges. Meetum’s developers are regularly updating the app and are open to feedback from users.
Adebayo has worked hard on outreach for Meetum over the first half of this semester because he believes the app could be valuable to the College community. The key to its success, however, is that enough students decide to use it.
“This would only work if a large number of our student body is on board and registers on the app,” he said. “It wouldn’t necessarily be productive if only 30–40 students are posting events amongst themselves.”