Newman social network to encourage community

By Colleen Vest

Even though Newman Hall recently doubled in size, its residents are still determined to preserve community.

Three students at Newman Hall, 604 E. Armory Ave., in Champaign, created nConnect, a social network run by and for Newman residents, as a way to get students more involved on campus.

“It’s a good way to bring people together,” said nConnect co-creator Andy Kraus, junior in LAS.

Steve Zazeski, junior in Engineering, and Joe Candido, junior in FAA, also helped make the Web site.

The front page, nConnect.us, is accessible to anyone and features a calendar of official Newman Hall events, the University search bar and Google and Wikipedia searches.

In addition, it includes links to the University homepage, Facebook, Compass, campus maps and other University-oriented Web sites.

Only Newman residents can access the pages that feature profiles, groups and full lists of events.

“Privacy and safety was our main concern,” said Zazeski. “For the profile, all residents have their first name, last name, floor, what building and what year they are, which is nothing more than what is in the campus phonebook.”

The Web site features a course section where students input their current and past classes. It is designed for residents to find other people in their classes or residents who had already taken the class and are willing to help, Zazeski said.

“It’s sort of an informal tutoring tool for students who need help with a class,” added Kraus.

Through nConnect, Newman groups can post information for all interested residents, which allows people to join throughout the year.

“Each group profile has a picture and information about what they do and their upcoming events, which they can post to the main calendar,” Kraus said.

The Web site is not a part of Newman Hall, since it was created and is run by students, but the creators did work with the Newman administration. The creators dedicated more than 300 hours this summer to make sure the Web site was ready by Aug. 25. According to Kraus, 240 Newman residents, about 41 percent, signed up for nConnect within the first week.

“With Newman doubling in size, we really want to keep it a community,” said nConnect user Brittany Sylwestrak, sophomore in FAA. “nConnect is a really good outlet because it lets students create groups and events for the hall.”

Newman resident Laura Rayman, senior in LAS, compared nConnect’s limited membership with Facebook.

“If someone sends me an event on Facebook, I don’t usually read it, especially when it is sent out to more than 400 people,” she said.

“On nConnect, we can have specific Newman events that people can go to. There’s not as much time wasting since there are no photo albums or applications.”

The Web site is useful for both incoming and returning Newman students, but all the residents need to start using it, said Newman resident Trisha Tan, graduate student.

“Keeping that community feeling will be a challenge,” Tan continued. “nConnect has its flaws, like any other Web site, but it’s brand new, and it’s a good starting point.”