With many University of Maryland clubs resuming in-person operations this semester, some have turned to a new product from Discord to recruit and meet potential members.
Discord — a messaging app — recently launched Discord Student Hubs in North America. This university’s student hub launched in the beginning of the school year, and it features a menu of over 70 communities.
Clubs have used Discord servers throughout the pandemic, but the student hub allows servers within the university to be in one place. And students say the hub has come at the perfect time, making connections more accessible in a time when many people have lacked in-person interactions for about 18 months.
The Terrapin Record Label is using Discord to help create professional connections for artists, community outreach director Paul Servary said.
When the hub launched, Servary, a senior communication major, noticed a lot of people joining the club’s server and attending meetings. Since the First Look Fair hasn’t happened yet, the hub has been a “catalyst to get members in the door,” he said.
The UMCP Gaming server has been around since early 2017. The launch of hubs, according to UMCP Gaming’s community manager and treasurer Lucas Ng, has given them a lot more exposure.
Discord was originally a platform meant for gaming, but with the launch of the student hub, Ng thinks that it can be a really good starting place for any club.
“If somebody is already using Discord, it makes it really easy for [them] to join the club,” the senior information science major said.
Maiya Krichton, a junior environmental science and policy major, found a community of like-minded individuals in this university’s beekeeping club. During the pandemic, she was able to stay connected with her community. In this server, Krichton said she’s not alone in her fascination with the Brood X cicadas — an affinity her family couldn’t comprehend.
The club had been using GroupMe for a long time, but Discord has been a much better fit, said Krichton, who is now the organization’s president.
The beekeeping club is also attracting new members on its server, Krichton said, and one of her fellow officers added the server to the university hub. When Krichton saw a sudden influx of people, she was confused. Turns out, it was because of the club’s presence on the hub.
“It’s just really cool to see all these new people from Discord,” she said. “We just want to help educate however we can.”
Krichton posts weekend meeting updates and pictures when club members go into the beehives, she said.
“We give updates about which hives are doing good and which ones aren’t doing so great,” Krichton said.
Servary’s also using the server to motivate Terrapin Record Label members. A lot of people have hit a slump during the pandemic, he said, and he hopes that the use of the hub and in-person events can bring motivation back.
“The music community kind of fell out,” Servery said. “Hopefully [the hub] is a catalyst to just get back in the groove, and get back to what we were good at.”
Other servers in the hub have grown and evolved since their conception.
Ryan Punith created “College Park Grade Slaves” — a server dedicated to homework help — in fall of 2020. It was just him and a few of his friends, allowing them a way to stay connected during the online world.
Now, the server has over 250 members from a variety of majors. There are channels for math and science courses, but also just for socializing and hanging out.
Punith, a sophomore materials engineering major, has made new friends through the server, some of whom he has met in person.
“I honestly think Discord saved a lot of lives just by giving people a place to still be able to talk,” Punith said.