University News

Online advising forum open for questions

Meiklejohn peer advisors will answer anonymous student questions on new Facebook page

By
Staff Writer
Monday, October 7, 2013

The peer advising program’s Facebook page opened in August as a forum for questions from the student body.

The Meiklejohn Leadership Committee launched a Facebook page called “Brown Advisors” Aug. 30 in order to create a digital forum for students to ask their peers questions related to Brown academics, extracurriculars and social life.

Brown Advisors allows students to ask questions anonymously and encourages other students to answer them. The page has amassed more than 700 likes since its creation.

“We wanted something very accessible and quick,” said Kayla Rosen ’14, one of the Meiklejohn leaders who spearheaded the project. “The number one priority for advising on this campus is making information accessible to the people who need it.”

Over the summer, Meiklejohn leaders discussed ways to increase students’ access to advising resources on campus, and one of the leaders suggested creating a Facebook page, Rosen said. After fleshing out the design, the Meiklejohn Leadership Committee launched the page during the group’s orientation session before the school year started, Rosen said.

Organizers sought to draw from the success of established Brown student community pages like “Brown Compliments,” Rosen said.

“It was really a collaborative effort — one of those things that just kind of snowballed,” Rosen said. “Someone said, ‘You know what, Facebook is super easy and accessible,’ and it went off from there.”

The page’s description box provides a link to an anonymous form for Brown-related questions. Before submitting questions, students are instructed on the form that “there is no such thing as a dumb question.”

“We wanted to make sure people felt comfortable asking the questions they wanted to ask,” Rosen said. “We thought that an online forum that was anonymous, a place for anyone in the student body to get immediate, crowd-sourced answers from peers, was the best solution.”

Questions have included straightforward requests for logistical information about courses and locations on campus and more subjective inquiries such as whether taking five courses that each have a section meeting would be too much to manage in one semester.

Lisa Goddard ’14, a Meiklejohn, said she has helped answer questions she felt passionate about or that fell within her sphere of advising expertise.

“I think (the page) is long overdue,” Goddard said. “We all have questions and we don’t really know who to ask.”

Some first-years said they have already found Brown Advisors to be helpful in their transitions to the University.

“It gives you some good advice,” said Alexander Gaidis ’17. “It answers questions I’ve never thought to ask but that actually turn out to be really useful.”

The site can be more effective than other advising resources, some first-years said.

“I think it’s helpful to actually have your own questions answered, rather than having the answers to commonly asked questions,” said Noah Webb ’17.