Shin: Northwestern should have a video blog


Heiwon Shin, Columnist

Northwestern is big, diverse and active. It’s hard to know about everything that is going on. There are three campuses: Evanston, Chicago and Doha, Qatar. But NU extends beyond that because students, alumni and faculty not only return to the diverse communities they come from, but they also venture out across the world through study abroad and research programs.

When I came to Evanston, I was overwhelmed by all the student activities. There were so many clubs and fliers that I had difficulty digesting and trying to remember everything. I joined Stitch, NU’s fashion magazine, because I was dying to get into it, but I was also looking for something new, which proved difficult.

The thing is, it’s not the fliers that speak to me — it’s the people. The flier on top of tens of others on the ground or on the walls? I may or may not have even seen it. But my friend who convinced me to try BLAST? I listened. It’s the personal appeal that matters, and we need more of it.

One way we can make large-scale communication more personal, I believe, is through video blogging.

Of course, I already know that multiple extensive communication tools exist, including a University-run YouTube channel and online and offline student-run publications such as The Daily, North by Northwestern and Sherman Ave., not to mention the constant emails from the school. NU also has the One Book One Northwestern program, which this year has guided a discussion about the attempt to end the hunger problem in Kenya.

So you might wonder, why bother with something else?

But video blogging, or vlogging, is a specific medium that hasn’t been explored much so far. I, for one, love seeing people talking freely about something or just seeing what it’s like to be at the scene. I definitely prefer it over official messages and well-crafted videos. I love reading about the news, which appeals to my mind, but I love seeing and experiencing by watching vlogs, which appeal to my heart.

I was inspired by Eat Your Kimchi, a vlog run by a Canadian couple living in South Korea since 2008. It’s useful for foreigners wanting to know more about Korea, and it’s also informational and interesting for Koreans like me. On their three YouTube channels, they have more than 169,000,000 views. It’s a powerful tool.

Likewise, NU should start a vlog that allows the community to know and show the ins and outs of NU to the outside world.

Here are some of the things that I, as a freshman and international student, think would be helpful for incoming students, as well as many others:

  • Student activities and campus life: Clubs could promote events or just show what they are like. An interesting 30 seconds of vlogging can be better than 300 fliers across campus.
  • Associated Student Government: ASG could upload one minute meeting recaps and possibly engage the campus in dialogue on top concerns.
  • Study abroad programs: Programs could follow students who are studying in different continents. Each week, the students can show us the schools they attend, some of the classes they take, the places they hang out and their exciting moments, fears and hopes.
  • Research experience: Students and professors could expose the different fields of study and hot topics of research.
  • Exploring Evanston, Chicago and Illinois: This vlog could be about food, cool places to visit, the arts and music scene, shopping, cafes and anything else about our neighborhood and community.

When Facebook first came around, not many would have guessed this new form of social media would shift from a fun thing friends have to keep in touch to something most entities, including universities, have to extend their voices and promote themselves.

It might be a strange medium for a university, but entering the vlogosphere is a step forward to connect and express NU. If we’re the first, let us be the first.

Heiwon Shin is a Medill freshman. She can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].