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From Swifties to CS students: TikTok brings fame to classes, clubs on campus

Groups utilize social media platform to engage community, find creative outlet

In recent years, classes, clubs and organizations on campus have turned to the social media platform TikTok to engage with students and connect with the broader community. With TikTok becoming increasingly popular, some of these accounts have achieved unanticipated digital success.

CSCI 0150: “Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming and Computer Science” is one  course on campus that recently rode the TikTok wave. The class TikTok profile, @cs15.brown, was created by teaching assistants in spring 2021, Emily Hinds ’24 — a current TA for the course — wrote in an email to The Herald.

The TikTok was created to bring a fun atmosphere to what some consider an intimidating subject, while also engaging students during a semester of remote learning. Despite the resumption of in-person classes, the TikTok has remained active, Hinds explained.

The account has published 25 TikToks so far, and this semester the TAs post roughly once a week. One video from Oct. 10 about whether CS majors shower has almost 50,000 views.

“TikTok is just a way to get people excited about this sometimes very daunting field, especially at Brown,” Allison Masthay ’25, a TA for the course, said.

CSCI 0150 is a class of mostly first-years. The goal of the TikTok is to introduce computer science at Brown to new students in a way that frames the subject in a positive light.

Keyan Rahimi ’26, a CSCI 0150 student, took a video of one of the class “stretch breaks,” when TAs lead group dances, and posted it on his TikTok account @KeyanTheGreat. A few days later it had gained over 2 million views.

“I woke up in the morning and it was at 100,000 views, and then it just kept going,” Rahimi said. Prior to this video, the most-viewed video on his account had 60,000 views, so this was a huge surprise, he added.

Rahimi’s TikTok was shown in class the following week as they discussed virality.

“I thought it was hilarious and captures the stretch breaks we do halfway through the lecture perfectly — sometimes actual stretches, sometimes dance-in-place moves, always led by the humorous TAs,” wrote the course’s instructor Andy Van Dam, professor of technology and education and computer science, in an email to The Herald.

Another account, @lovinghimwasbrown — an account belonging to a Taylor Swift-focused club at Brown — has also seen success on TikTok, with one video attaining almost 700,000 views.

The video, which was posted last November, features the club’s two co-presidents, Caroline O’Daly ’23 and Michael Yeh ’23, flipping through a presentation breaking down Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well” short film.

The account was made “to show other people beyond campus what Loving Him Was Brown is all about,” O’Daly said.

Ariana Schindler GS, who manages the account, had many videos go viral on TikTok before she joined the Swiftie team.

“The first time I went to a meeting, they put together the coolest presentations, and I thought I have to put this on social media. SwiftTok is going to eat this up,” Schindler said.

“Obviously not everyone can join Loving Him Was Brown because it's just exclusively for Brown students,” O’Daly said. But “it's really nice to have this kind of social media presence so Swifties at other schools, or even Swifties who aren't in school, across the world, can still collaborate and celebrate what we're putting out into the world.”

People applying to Brown have commented on @lovinghimwasbrown’s TikTok account saying they want to come to Brown specifically to be a part of this club or that they plan to mention it in their application.

“People all around the world are seeing it,” O’Daly said. “Ideally Taylor will see it and who knows, maybe she will stop by next time she goes to her house in Watch Hill.”

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