Freshmen find community on virtual campus through Discord server


Alex Perry/The Daily Northwestern

A screenshot of the Northwestern Discord server owned by McCormick freshman Alan Senkus. Freshmen have been using the server to form connections during the remote quarter.

Alex Perry, Reporter

With most underclassmen barred from campus, freshmen are finding community through Discord — an online communications platform — and the popular video game “Among Us.”

The Discord server is owned by McCormick freshman Alan Senkus and was created after early decision results came out for the class of 2024. It currently has over 800 members, ranging from applicants, current students and graduate students. However, most of the members are freshmen, Senkus said.

“It’s like a virtual campus,” Senkus said. “It’s just open to anyone interested in Northwestern.”

The server is split into channels dedicated to studying, asking questions or just hanging out. They are also named after significant places on campus, like the Weber Arch and the Lakefill. Voice channels like Deering, Mudd and University are named after campus libraries and have limits on the number of participants, so as to reduce distractions when studying.

Weinberg freshman Myanno Miller joined the Discord after she was accepted into Northwestern and has found community through gaming and studying with other members.

“I have legitimately (gotten) a lot of work done, just by muting myself in a voice channel with four other people,” Miller said. “It’s because it feels like you’re together.”

At night, students frequent the channel and choose whether they want to study or play “Among Us.” McCormick freshman Alfy Napoles said a simple game like “Among Us” allows for students who do not game frequently to make friends, as it does not require much technical skill.

“The connections would definitely be more personal in person,” Napoles said. “But I find that online it’s easier to connect with a larger number of people.”

Napoles originally joined the server after he was admitted through early decision. The server was largely inactive until the regular decision students committed, so early decision students originally met up playing Minecraft. However, they soon grew tired of it and moved on to playing “Among Us,” which gained popularity in September.

Freshmen who connected over the summer in the server had planned on meeting in person during Fall Quarter, but had to delay their meetup when they pivoted entirely to remote learning.

“It’s weird because having internet friends; you’re usually never actually going to really meet these people,” McCormick freshman and moderator Claire Bonadio said. “But having friends on the Northwestern Discord is nice because then I feel like we can be closer when we meet in person because the hard parts are gone.”

Bonadio predicts that more applicants will join when it gets closer to December.

While the server has mostly been populated by freshmen, Senkus and his team of moderators are attempting to increase the number of graduate students, upperclassmen and prospective students.

“Everytime I play, there’s someone new who joins,” Bonadio said. “So it’s an interesting way of getting to know people.”

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