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Penn State Speaks @PSUStudents

Everyone who follows the official Penn State Twitter account (@penn_state) knows that it doesn’t exactly provide you with the most exciting information. University news and pictures of campus here and there are great things to see, but what about the 40,000 students who have awesome events, ideas, and experiences to share? Yes, having a personal Twitter account can sometimes help students be heard, but getting enough followers to actually have an impact on the Penn State community is not an easy task

Enter @PSUStudents. A few weeks ago, Cory Trimm, creator of the new website PennStateStudents.com, was hit with an idea. Interestingly enough, the inspiration came from Sweden, the first country that allows its citizens to control its official Twitter account. Essentially, each week, a new Swedish citizen takes over the @Sweden Twitter account and is featured on CuratorsOfSweden.com. This revolutionary use of social media gives more of a voice to the people of Sweden, and Trimm wanted to do the same for the students of Penn State. After running his idea past a few people and getting as much feedback as he could, he launched the website and Twitter account.

Cory wanted to take this a step further for Penn State, though. He wondered what would happen if there was a Penn State Twitter account that was not home to only one curator per week, but to tens of thousands of voices with an infinite variety of things to share. For organization’s sake, he created a form on the home page of the Penn State Students site with which current Penn State students with a valid PSU email address could sign up to be a part of this grand experiment. Once a student has signed up on the website and is accepted, all he or she has to do is include @PSUStudents or #PSU in a tweet and the tweet will automatically appear on the timeline of the @PSUStudents account.

Trimm expressed the idea that, eventually, if the idea catches on, the system will evolve into one similar to that of the @Sweden account, with one contributor per week, whether it is a current student, alumnus, or faculty member of Penn State, but for now it is whoever registers on the website. Once signed up, students can tweet anything they wish to share with the rest of the Penn State community, and as long as the PSU hashtag or PSU Students Twitter handle is included, it will be broadcast to all of the followers of the account.

Although they have yet to create any system that will stop inappropriate, irrelevant, or silly tweets from being published, Trimm stated that the account will be checked for excessive spam and inappropriate links (you can be removed from the database if your tweets are judged as spam). For the time being, though, he has faith in the Penn State student body. He hopes that the fact that students must provide all of their personal information in order to have access to the account, as well as the fact that their tweets have the potential to be seen by thousands of followers, will cause them to hold themselves accountable for their actions. Trimm emphasized that the goal of the PSU Students Twitter account is “to be as organic representation of PSU Students as possible. We feel that holding people accountable for what they tweet will lead to responsible tweeting and discussion amongst students, alumni, and other Twitter users that may not have had the chance to interact until now.”

Although there will be (and already have been) some people who take advantage of the system, this will only provide opportunities for the idea to improve. Aside from that, if this catches on, it could be one of the coolest social media-related things to happen to Penn Staters. Imagine all of the things that could be shared via this Twitter account. “Things Overheard at Penn State,” events being put on by various organizations, big and small, or even awesome spots to visit on campus are only a few examples of things that could be shared and discussed among Penn Staters all throughout the Twitterverse. As Carolyn Lasky (@carolaskyn) put it, “the greater Twitter community will benefit from active engagement of PSU Students tweeting at the account or using the hashtag ‘#PSU.’”

If you haven’t already signed up at PennStateStudents.com and followed @PSUStudents on Twitter, I would highly recommend it. Like most big ideas, it may seem small at first, but what makes this one unique is that we all have the power to build it up into something great.

What would you like to see come out of the @PSUStudents Twitter Account?

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