OSU-Cascades introduces CampusGroups, new app for students, faculty to connect

Tengjiao Wei, Sophomore of digital communication is checking out the updates of winter term through the new app that OSU Cascades has been pushing around campus.

Luke Reynolds, OSU-Cascades Beat Reporter

Motivated by setbacks in large part due to COVID-19 restrictions, Oregon State University-Cascades has introduced a new service called CampusGroups, an app targeted towards college campuses around the United States.

With the pandemic introducing many unexpected challenges for the OSU-Cascades community within the past year, it has become harder for students and faculty to connect on a consistent basis.

The app allows students to connect with their own college campus and participate in a wider community. For example, students can participate in virtual fairs, receive campus alerts, connect with on-campus clubs and organizations and even chat with others through a direct messaging system.

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“We looked at [CampusGroups], both in a short-term investment to provide an immediate community that was virtual, and also a long-term investment,” said Quentin Comus, the student life marketing coordinator at OSU-Cascades.

The service launched in October of 2020, and according to Comus, a third of students at OSU-Cascades said they have used CampusGroups so far.

“The real heart of [CampusGroups] is going to be a place where peers can interact with each other and with clubs, which was the main objective with [the app],” Comus said.

One big feature is the ability to add  preferences on one’s profile and connect with students with similar interests. 

With the big draw of CampusGroups being clubs, Comus feels that CampusGroups does not “compete with the OSU mobile app, because that is certainly more of an information kind of academic app.”

Comus played a major part in bringing CampusGroups to OSU-Cascades. Comus said  the process of onboarding new software can take upwards to a year at OSU due to a variety of factors.

However, this was not the case for CampusGroups. A special task force was created to look at security requirements, cost and whether the servicecould  be sustained with  current resources on and off campus.

“That whole process usually takes a year, and we did it in about the span of four to five weeks,” Comus said.

While not every club on the OSU-Cascades campus has integrated with CampusGroups yet, there have been some that are seeing the potential of the platform.

“We actually use [CampusGroups] quite a bit because we have a race series going on, so we’ve been advertising on there,” said Kira Corbett, the vice president of the cycling club at OSU-Cascades.

Corbett has had a positive experience on the platform so far, as she and her club have been using features such as group email and the forums feature to communicate with members. However, it has been hard to transition everyone in the cycling club over to CampusGroups.

“It was a little tricky because not everyone was on the platform so we couldn’t just select all of our members to send emails out to unless they were actually on the platform,” Corbett said.

Corbett also feels CampusGroups takes a minute to get used to, but now that the club has been using the app for a few months it has been pretty helpful.

“With COVID[-19] shutdowns causing so many of the different programs that were able to bring students together before to not be able to run right now we need something like CampusGroups to be able to come in knit the community together,” said Gabe Mcfarlane, the president of the rock-climbing sports team at OSU-Cascades.

Mcfarlane started the rock-climbing club with a few friends of his in early 2018. Since then, the club has expanded, encompassing 10% of the student body at one point in time. Recently the club has been struggling to plan events however.

“Much of what our club does is in person activity and rock climbing at the rock gym. We can’t meet in person right now, because the rock gym is also closed because of COVID restrictions,” Mcfarlane said.

The rock-climbing club is currently transitioning to CampusGroups. Mcfarlane said that CampusGroups has a “whole lot of tools for us to use, but we have to learn to use all the tools first.”

“It’s going to be an amazing resource as long as we can convince students to really subscribe and use it regularly,” Mcfarlane said.

OSU-Cascades students interested in CampusGroups can visit their website and follow the instructions for downloading the app. The app is currently not available for students at the OSU Corvallis Campus.