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Where your students get their (SFU) information
Faculty and staff are used to regular updates about community events, return-to-campus protocols, well-being, and so on. But what kinds of messages do students receive from the university? And how can you better understand the information they are seeing and hearing?
The Communication Services unit within Student Services manages the mass communication students receive that is not directly related to teaching and learning. The team develops content strategies and calendars to ensure that SFU’s roughly 25,000 undergraduate students receive essential information on the most appropriate communications platforms and at the right time of year.
Kat Trinidad, director, marketing and communications, in Student Services, notes that SFU has given her unit the responsibility to communicate both critical and non-critical information to the student body as a whole. The team supports the development and distribution of mass undergraduate communications for the offices of the President, Provost, and Registrar and offers consultation to student-facing support units to help them develop their own content calendars and strategies. The team also provides knowledge expertise to departments looking to improve their messaging to students by creating tools such as student persona journeys and the Student Communication Guide.
In addition, Communication Services publishes the weekly Student Services Bulletin (a newsletter that goes out on Thursdays) and maintains social media channels, including @SFUcentral on Twitter and Instagram and @SFUstudentcentral on Facebook.
The Student Services Bulletin
According to Trinidad, the weekly Student Services Bulletin is emailed to all enrolled undergraduate students and has an average open rate between 65 and 70 per cent: “The Student Services Bulletin has a higher reach because it’s communication that all undergrads receive from us, as opposed to social media, which they opt into if they want to follow our channels. We have an obligation to ensure the Bulletin focuses only on practical information for the mass student audience which supports their educational journey.”
The newsletter focuses on critical announcements that are relevant to student success and well-being, including information about academic deadlines, financial aid, and student supports and resources. It also promotes opportunities for students to thrive, such as campus events, extracurricular workshops, community-building initiatives, and employment and volunteer experiences.
If you’d like to see the messaging sent to your students, current and archived newsletter issues are available here.
The Student Services social media channels are used to amplify important university announcements, share what’s happening around the SFU campus community, and raise student awareness about activities, supports, and resources across Student Services departments.
Students also turn to social media as a point of contact for inquiries. The Communication Services team closely monitors the accounts and refers students to the people who can best respond.
And, if you want to know what students are talking about, social media is a good place to start.
“Over the past year, and really throughout the pandemic, we have observed that the mass undergraduate student audience is engaging most with health and safety information—such as COVID-19 precautions, vaccine declarations, wearing masks, and the pop-up clinics, when they were available,” says Trinidad.
But they also have other interests.
“During the spring and summer, we noticed increased student engagement on content around job and career opportunities. Most of all, they’re interested in knowing more about what’s going on around campus, services available, and wayfinding for new and returning students.”
Trinidad is especially pleased when students use social media as a place to connect.
“It’s great to see them engaging with community posts and other student-generated content. We appreciate they often feel disconnected from each other and their sense of community, and they want to see innovative and safe ways to connect with each other, especially if they come from student-driven ideas.”
Bridge the gap
If you’d like to stay informed about your students’ conversations and concerns, visit the links below: