The UCCS Class of 2022 Facebook group was permanently closed to all members and effectively shut down, as of Feb. 22. Students that were members of the UCCS Class of 2022 Facebook group received a notification a few days prior to the closure of the page, when the UCCS Office of First Year Experience posted on the group’s news feed that the page would be closed due to inactivity.
Ellen Burkhart, director of the Office of First Year Experience, explained that there were several reasons behind the closure of the UCCS Class of 2022 group, as well as the other “UCCS Class of …” groups. Because the Office of First Year Experience is primarily run by two faculty members, it is imperative that they prioritize the most important student services that their office can provide that will be beneficial to students.
After some observation on the part of the Office of First Year Experience as the administrators of the “UCCS Class of …” groups, they determined that the Facebook groups were not getting the level of student engagement they were hoping for.
The last post to the UCCS Class of 2022 Facebook group was made in January, by someone who was looking to sell books. The average number of posts to the group per month was roughly one or two posts on the feed, usually concerning students seeking others to take over their rents or leases, or students hoping to sell some books.
“People are just going elsewhere to connect,” Burkhart said.
Incidentally, one of these places is the UCCS Bulletin Board Facebook page, which according to Burkhart, is moderated more by the students themselves. A lot of the posts that were made to the “UCCS Class of …” groups were reposted to or from the UCCS Bulletin Board. “We just felt like we were duplicating something that was already better,” Burkhart said.
There was another aspect of the groups that Burkhart was not too keen on, which also factored in the closure of these Facebook groups. Because community engagement was so low, the Facebook groups were not as inclusive as other pages like the UCCS Bulletin Board, which meant that the groups were not really serving their intended purpose of building up the community. The other “UCCS Class of …” Facebook groups were also shut down for the same reasons.
Burkhart explained that it seemed like these groups created more confusion for students entering the UCCS community, especially transfer students or students whose credit hours make their graduation date unknown. These students would wonder “Which group do I belong in?” and be unsure which Facebook group to join.
Only one student reached out to the Office of First Year Experience about the closure of the pages, and there were no other responses from the group members and or the rest of the UCCS community.
The responsibility of moderating the Facebook groups could have been transferred to another office, but Burkhart pointed out that none of them were ready to take on the administrative role for the Facebook pages, especially with the chaos surrounding the pandemic. It would be possible to transfer the role to someone officially affiliated with the university, but only time will tell if that is something students would like to see.
According to Burkhart, the Office of First Year Experience is keeping the UCCS Parent Facebook groups open.
As a final note, Burkhart wanted to remind students that even though the “UCCS Class of …” Facebook groups no longer exist, the Office of First Year Experience is still open on campus, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The Office of First Year Experience services include working one-on-one with students who would like support in academics, those wanting to work through everyday student challenges, goal setting and study plans and more.