Photo Credits: CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE
Students comment on privacy settings and more regarding the UC Davis meme page
Home to cows, turkeys, squirrels, bikes, late buses and meme-filled individuals, UC Davis has a place for memes to thrive: the Facebook group UC Davis Memes for Egghead Teens (UCDMFET).
Unlike other college meme groups, such as the nearly 200,000 member group UC Berkeley Memes for Edgy Teens (UCBMFET), the Davis group, with almost 12 times fewer members, is exclusive to the UC Davis community. Second-year biochemical engineering major Christina Jumalon is an administrator for the Davis group, and explained why it’s been decided that only people who have a UC Davis email can join.
“We want to keep it more relatable for us, since we’re already kind of a small college,” Jumalon said. “A little bit of a small college. We don’t want outside content that makes it unrelatable. I know that [UCBMFET] is very popular because people can see it wherever or whatever age they are, but it kind of takes away the relatability and the connection, like school pride.”
Third-year design major Alana Joldersma disagreed with this viewpoint. She considered UCBMFET to be successful due to its inclusivity and said that the added diversity of it makes it significantly more “fun.”
“I’m personally not really a fan of [having to enter the group with a UC Davis email],” Joldersma said. “This sounds a little pathetic, but memes have really become a way for our generation to react to a lot of issues going on in our lives, even if it’s just a bunch of us complaining about finals at this or that UC […] Like I’m always tagging my friends at [the University of Chicago] and Yale in the UCBMFET page, and I wish I could do the same for the Davis page. Thank goodness for screenshots though!”
Joldersma first joined the group as a first-year after joining UCBMFET. She generally gets a good laugh looking at the page, but interacts with the content most during times of large campus events, such as campus closures due to wildfires.
During the closures, Joldersma spoke with friends about the great photo opportunities because of the haziness. Initially, she was joking with a friend about actually taking her grad pictures, but they ended up doing it the next day and posting a picture in UCDMFET. In the picture, captioned “Graduating from Davis fall quarter be like”. Joldersma’s friend is wearing a smoke mask and is standing next to an Egghead with a mask over its nose. Since being posted on Nov. 18, it has gained more than 2,000 reactions.
First-year biochemistry and molecular biology major Dawson Diaz believes that the group’s privacy settings should be up to the discretion of the group administrators, but he thinks there isn’t really a need for it to be a private group. In part, because there are so many people in the group already, the memes are likely to be seen by individuals who aren’t directly inside the UC Davis community anyway.
“It’s applicable to other schools, so I think it’s okay to have a meme page be open for everyone,” Diaz said. “But people have to understand that they may not always understand the memes, but they’re still applicable […] I think the meme community is much bigger, it shouldn’t have to be constricted. Whether or not it should be closed, I think, is up to the discretion of the administrators who are running the page.”
He spoke specifically about how different parts that are seemingly unique to Davis are relevant on other campuses. Bike memes, he says, can be relatable for students at other campuses, such as Arizona State University and UC Berkeley, which are both gold-level Bicycle Friendly Universities. He also raised a point about the individuals posting the memes.
“People who join the page probably know that it’s going to be Davis restricted,” Diaz said. “They may feel more comfortable posting random things that only Davis students will get.”
In order for a meme to be posted in the group, it has to be approved by administrators first. With regards to the many memes about the campus closure, which was caused by the poor air quality resulting from the Butte County fires, Jumalon discussed the administrator’s decisions on how to approve memes.
“We are very aware that this is a sensitive topic, that a lot of people were hurt by the Butte fires, and we are sorry for that,” Jumalon said. “But we love making fun of admin, that is always okay […] we like anything that isn’t directly correlated to people being affected […] We’re very much towards making fun of the school [and] of our worries.”
In the past, according to Jumalon, the administrators of the group have had to reprimand certain individuals who repeatedly tried to post inappropriate memes and have even warned them about the possibility of being removed. Diaz thinks that it’s important the administrators approve of the memes that go up for similar reasons.
“Memes shouldn’t be used to put people down,” Diaz said. “They should be used to bring people up and sort of encourage positive dialogue of change, or of just humor.”
Diaz joined the group the summer before he started at UC Davis in order to see what the culture of the school was like. He spoke about how the memes reflect a more general culture, and about their impact, both on a personal and a wider level.
“There’s definitely a lot of issues that [UCDMFET] touches on that are really specific to college students,” Diaz said. “I think it’s really a reflection of what college life is like […] It shows UC Davis as a college campus, a group of college students trying to get their degree [while] also acknowledging they have issues. They’re acknowledging the campus has flaws, which is really important because it’s not always easy to say ‘Hey this is a huge problem, let’s fix it.’ Memes poke fun at it to get people aware of the issue.”
Written by: Anjini Venugopal — firstname.lastname@example.org