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Thursday, October 28, 2021

The UC Davis Patio app aims to help students stay connected during the pandemic

The student who assisted in launch of UC Davis Patio reflects on how the app allows new students to connect with one another

During the pandemic, students have found it difficult to establish connections with their fellow Aggies. One way that new UC Davis students are connecting with each other online is through an app called Patio.

Patio is an app designed for college students to form groups based on their shared interests. In order to make an account, a user must be a verified student with a college email address from one of the select campuses recognized by Patio. After making an account, students can choose groups that they would like to join based on their interests, clubs or classes.

Ray Huerta, a first-year environmental toxicology major, helped coordinate the launch for the UC Davis Patio. Huerta met with one of the founders of the app, Andrew Martin, who was looking for university students to assist in introducing the app to the UC system. This past September, the UC Davis Patio app was put into effect and began allowing students to join.

Upon making an account, UC Davis students are added to a central group chat for all Aggies. From there, they can join groups that are catered towards their interests or create their own.

“We have over 200 groups on the UC Davis Patio that can range from sports to music to Aggies who are passionate about movie-watching or finding new places to eat in Davis,” Huerta said. “It makes it very easy to find people that go to your college and have similar interests as you. If you don’t find a group that you like or you fit into, you can even make your own.”

While students were able to successfully connect with other students and establish new social circles on Patio, Huerta states that there is still room for improvement. Huerta noted that students do not use Patio as frequently as they did when it was first launched. In addition to this, not many students on campus are aware of the app or interested in utilizing it.

“I think the app would have been a bigger success if it launched way before instruction started,” Huerta said. “The app is also very difficult to promote to Aggies that already have experience at UC Davis because they have formed their own groups and friendships. Hence, they are not looking for new people to meet as much as incoming first-year students and transfer students. Also, this pandemic has not made it any easier for anyone and many people that were introduced to each other on the app could not meet up in person.”

One way that Patio is planning to expand its reach is by creating platforms for seniors in high school who have been accepted to college. This would enable them to connect with other students who got accepted to the same school well in advance of the beginning of instruction.

“I think this will definitely attract more people to the Patio app because the priority of incoming freshmen is finding new people to build friendships with and Patio does just that,” Huerta said. “I remember as a senior in high school, joining the Facebook group chat for my class was a great way to connect with people, but Patio makes it easier to connect with other admits one-on-one.” 

While UC acceptance letters have not been released yet, Huerta is working with other UC Davis students to introduce the next class of freshmen to Patio ahead of time.

“My partner and I are very excited to get the class of 2025 on the app as soon as possible,” Huerta said. “I think introducing Patio to incoming freshmen early on is going to be

essential in the success of the app. I think Patio will become the new app that college students use as the years go on.” 

Huerta made note of the way the pandemic has been a large obstacle to developing strong social networks on campus. 

“Socially, I wish I had more friends at Davis and connected with them more because there is only so much you can learn about someone online,” Huerta said. “I have never met any of my UC Davis friends in person besides one of them so it is very hard for me to call it a friendship.”

Despite the added difficulty brought by the pandemic, Huerta encourages students to step out of their comfort zones and reach out to others with confidence.

“At first it was very difficult to meet people and make friends at Davis, but I put my nervousness and pride aside and just addressed the people I wanted with confidence,” Huerta said. “My advice is to never be afraid to talk to anyone, because at the end of the day, we’re all just human with the same flaws and problems. Things that make you uncomfortable or scared will only help you grow in the long run, so why not just do those things while you can?”
Written by: Liana Mae Atizado— features@theaggie.org

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