UMW students find community through new Facebook meme page
By KATE SELTZER
The “M” in UMW stands for memes, according to a new Facebook group. Since the meme page of that name was created last Tuesday, Nov. 6, more than 250 UMW-specific memes have been posted. At time of publication, 1,129 people had joined the group.
“I never expected it to grow this quickly, but many people have told me it filled the hole that Yik Yak left and people love them some memes, so I guess it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise,” said junior art major Natalie Eaton, who created the page after visiting her boyfriend at William and Mary.
“They [William and Mary] have an absolutely amazing meme page, and I was honestly really jealous,” she said. “I figured, why not make one for UMW and see how it goes?”
The memes reflect a variety of concerns students have with the University in real life, ranging from mold in dorms to Mormon groups proselytizing on campus to a general distaste for Sodexo.
Arron Rhodes, who graduated in 2017 with a major in religious studies, recently posted a meme that pointed out that “90% of the expensive flat screens in the UC” are rarely used. He took issue with the school’s spending priorities.
“Repair Willard before building new stuff we don’t even use,” Rhodes said. “Willard is where it all started — preservation should come first.”
Senior business administration major Zach Mayhall’s meme noted the peril of bikes speeding through the tunnel.
“The tunnel isn’t wide enough [for bikes and pedestrians],” he said. “I’m all about getting to class fast or easier, but students walking shouldn’t have to dodge bikes, golf carts, and skateboards. Plus, I’ve almost hit someone on a bike with a door at Woodard by the Nest. So it really isn’t safe.”
For Tara Anderson, a junior majoring in biochemistry, the meme page, despite its many complaints, is all in good fun.
“I’d say that our meme page is just a way for us all to bond and blow off steam,” she said. “Every university has its growing pains, and while we’re all having a blast joking on UMW’s specific problems, I personally am very excited to see our school growing and improving in so many ways.”
Junior communications and digital studies major Michael Gilchrist agreed that the meme page is good for community building.
“I think the meme page has really brought students together because we all feel the same struggles,” he said.
“It’s been so fun making memes about UMW and having fellow students laugh and appreciate them,” said Cara Wissinger, a senior majoring in historic preservation.
Students aren’t the only ones enjoying the memes.
“As far as I know, I’m the only professor on the meme page, a badge I wear with honor,” said English professor Colin Rafferty.
“I’m all for it,” said senior English creative writing major Cierra Morrison. “We were showing the page to Rafferty in class, and he asked to join as we scrolled through. If the page is about all of us connecting via memes about our experiences here, then wouldn’t teachers be involved regardless?”
“I’m fascinated with pop culture and how we use it to communicate with each other, so when my students showed me the meme page, I was thrilled to see it,” Rafferty said. “It was like having a curtain pulled back on a part of the collegiate experience that, as a professor, I know very little about. The page is a means by which people can find common ground on shared frustrations and joys of being here.”
Rafferty has posted his own meme, which compares his views on non-traditional students speaking up in class when he was a student himself to his views now as a professor.
“I’m forever comparing my collegiate experience—twenty years ago—with my experience here,” said Rafferty. “And it’s true, I do love those students who can reliably jump into any conversation.”
Morrison subsequently turned Rafferty himself into a meme, a riff on a scene from 30 Rock in which Steve Buscemi dresses as a teenager and addresses a group of high schoolers with “How do you do, fellow kids?”
“I made it in class when he asked us if he could join,” Morrison said. “I sent it to my friend in class first and she laughed so loudly that the people around her asked, and soon enough he noticed and saw it and laughed as well – he loved it.”
“I take being turned into a meme as a sign of affection,” Rafferty said. “At least I hope it is.”