Website Founders Compile Campus Events

By Isabella Stallworthy

Where do you look to find out what’s going on at Middlebury? Most of us would probably have a jumble of different answers. With so many options, from Portal to Middblog to Facebook to the Campus, it’s hard to know where to go to get information about campus happenings. This is one of the reasons why the new student-run website, Middbeat, was formally launched this spring as a platform for spreading the word about contemporary life at the College. After a jumpstart interview with Middlebury graduate Bianca Giaever, creator of the well-known “Scared is Scared” video, the site is officially up and running.

“It’s like an online Proctor wall,” said Middbeat co-founder Eyal Levy ’15.5.

Set up much like Tumblr and inspired by a similar site from Wesleyan, wesleying.org, Middbeat offers a running interactive list of different campus events including contests, speakers and dances, each consisting of a short blurb describing the event as well as some sort of visual accompaniment.

“We come here to Middlebury from all over the world to share our lives,” said Levy. “There should be a space where we can know in a clear, organized, fun way what’s going on — who are the people that go here, how do I get involved in something, what is a cool hike to do … everything.”

Within the first week of its official launch, the site attracted over 3,000 views. The site offers a link for students to register to submit their own posts, as well as a section for tips and suggestions. Submissions are fielded and uploaded by co-founders Levy and Luke Whelan ’13.5, former editor of Middblog.

“We’re looking for creative ways to tell stories that may better suit the busy student’s life, using memes, using video,” said Whelan. In addition to events, Whelan hopes the site will become a forum for campus conversation and debate that would otherwise be contained in dining halls and limited to smaller groups.

“Like, man, wasn’t [the] Winter Ball expensive?” Whelan added. “That’s one thing we would talk about. We have to start tapping into what strikes a nerve.”

According to Nathaniel Brown ’13, Mill social house president, “Something like Middbeat is integral to the development of the social scene on campus.”

Similar to Middblog but unlike many of the other campus social online resources, Middbeat was created to be completely independent of the College administration.

“We’re not affiliated with the College at all so we feel like that gives us [some] freedom,” said Whelan. “We’re going to be witty, we’re going to use cultural references, we’re going to swear.”

Along with interactive event postings, the site also includes a calendar and a display of the most recent comments. “When it’s students creating things and informing each other,” Whelan said, “there’s a new kind of energy that injects things going on on campus as opposed to just getting an email.”

Members of the administration have expressed support of Middbeat’s initiatives as well, in the hope that this new resource will allow students to collaborate with faculty and staff to share interests, open forums and encourage participation in campus events.

“We have tried to address some of these needs through Midd Notes and weekly email digests including What’s Happening at Middlebury This Weekend?” said Shirley Collado, dean of the College. “We have more work to do.”

“The information we get in emails is not interactive; it’s not fun. It’s not personal,” said Levy in reference to one of the College’s efforts to communicate social events. “We’re trying to revolutionize the way we interact here.”

To Levy, Middbeat is a way for students to communicate with each other but also to foster interaction between students and faculty, as the site is open to anyone to submit a post.

“We’d like for the faculty to also send stuff to us,” he said. “The more people take ownership of the site, the more people will feel connected to the site and then to the school.”

The founding team’s goal is for the site to be used as frequently as Facebook. They also hope to develop Middbeat into a space for other interactive activities such as live blogging and eventually to develop an app for the iPhone.

“We live here in such a small bubble but it still feels like we’re all in our own little worlds,” said Levy. “We’re trying to help the school communicate with itself.”

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Website Founders Compile Campus Events