A student-led initiative draws SF State students together digitally
Thousands of students and alumni connect on the Gator Meetups Club @ SFSU Discord.
September 28, 2022
The school year has just begun and a student sees someone drop a Discord link in the comment section during a Zoom class. Some students think the channel they joined is affiliated with the university, the official SF State Discord.
But there is currently no official SF State Discord, and due to trademark legal constraints, no Discord can say “SF State” before the name of the club.
There’s a group of over 3,000 members on campus engaged digitally through the Gator Meetups Club @ SFSU. Some students join to meet new people, others because someone invited them to class and some simply enjoy the online community.
The moderator Cristian Alvarado, also known as “Ocdude” online, created the Discord server five years ago as a branch of Reddit for Gators. The users of the subreddit felt that it was too slow and Discord was the new trend
Quickly, Alvarado decided to hand it off to other students because it became too much to manage.
“I regretted it due to how much time it was taking to moderate versus Reddit and ended up handing it off,” he said. “After that, other Discords proliferated that I had no involvement in.”
The name of the Discord was the social experiment club, which focused on city life and bringing people together.
SF State graduate Dustin Lee is the current president but plans to hand off the reins this semester. While Lee will still run the Discord, he is looking for a lighter load of work.
“I changed it from a general San Francisco theme discord to more club centric, and I made it more official with the changing of the name of the server,” Lee said.
Students use Discord chat for many things; currently, seven chat channels are available to users on the server. Each channel lets the user connect with someone by posting on the channel. The channels allow students to communicate with others over topics like food, pets, media and arts, memes, and other serious issues such as campus housing and academic questions with a channel to self-promote your social channels or previous work they’ve done.
The Gator Meetups Club Discord gets around 600 weekly visitors and about 200 communicators.
“I did a recent purge of inactive users a week ago,” Lee said. “Last week, we had 4,500, but now we’re at 3,800. They’re more active than any other server.”
But running the largest SF State server isn’t easy. Two candidates who were supposed to take over have dropped out this month. But there’s an effort to create a workshop for moderators and club officers because of the stress.
Currently, the club officially has six officers and some of the moderating team are alumni.
According to Lee, dealing with drama is the most challenging part. Usually, it involves students not liking each other, which is when the officers have to mitigate.
Club Officer’s tasks include attending and planning monthly meetings and preparing for small club events. Officers are responsible for establishing the club rules, overseeing chats and creating channels.
A former member of the Gator Meetups Club Discord Brandon Wong-Delizo learned about the Discord through students. He said Associated Students officers even recommended the club as an excellent way to connect with the campus community.
“This club has so many connections to other clubs that other SF State club circles engage on the site, showing or sharing other clubs’ social events,” Wong-Delizo said.
During his time as a Gator Meetups officer, Wong-Delizo was in charge of promotional duties. He created posters for in-person events and online events.
He believes the club greatly impacted students during the COVID-19 pandemic because it offered a social platform for students to talk and engage.
“I know some students and alumni that don’t go out as much and lack social lives,” Wong-Delizo said. “So I think it is impactful in a way, and helped students navigate San Francisco State. It does help them connect with other students they might not be able to see in person.”
Wong-Delizo doesn’t see the server fading out as long as the club has officers to run it.
“I don’t think it’s going to disappear because San Francisco State relies on this,” Wong Delizo said.