Instagram Opens Doors to Off-campus Homes

Pictures create open doors as students use Instagram to highlight life in their off-campus homes.

Due to the effects of the coronavirus, which restrict gatherings of those who live outside one’s household, groups of off-campus students at John Brown University are seeking ways to connect with others. One way they discovered is through house Instagram accounts, where housemates share photos and videos together.

Taryn Morrow, senior general music major, is a resident of a house with four other senior music majors which they’ve nicknamed the Grace Nest. Their Instagram account, @grace.nest2020, is a way to “show other people what we’re doing without inviting everyone to our house,” Morrow said.

Photo courtesy of Jacob Crouthamel

Through their posts, Morrow hopes that the account will show the personality of the Grace Nest. “We’re all music majors, so we’re a little weird, little strange and we all are busy but in our own ways,” Morrow said.

Ashley Nelson, senior elementary education major, was inspired by a previous student’s account. “It was really cool getting to see that insider view of what they’re up to,” Nelson said. “I thought it would be cool, like, whenever I get into my house to have that to document. I kind of think of it as a photo album, but it’s so much easier to put together with posts.”

Photo courtesy of Austin Shull

Her house’s Instagram, @the.holly.hub, highlights the experiences of five seniors, each with a different major, living together. So far, the account features introductions of the housemates, a photoshoot and videos of fun moments.

Bethany Spangler, another resident of the Holly Hub and senior marketing major, feels that the account provides a way to stay involved with JBU as commuter students. “There’s kind of that disconnect this year, but I feel like through this, there’s opportunity to still see people or for them to see what you’re doing if they wanted to,” Spangler said.

Nelson reported that because of her student teaching experience this semester, she has found a different way to build relationships with other students. “I may not be able to meet them this semester, but you can learn a lot from meeting people on Instagram. So, I just thought that was also a great time to do that,” Nelson said.

Since they share the same major, Morrow has found that the residents of the Grace Nest also share in the challenges of 2020. “The hardest thing right now is performances, especially as we’re all seniors and looking forward to our recitals or the last play that we get to do,” Morrow said. “We didn’t get to go on our Ireland tour for choir, so that’s really difficult working through that.”

She found support from her roommate, who reminded her about the importance of perspective. “A lot of seniors, especially as we’re walking through campus, we’re just like, ‘Okay, I’m going to stop and I’m going to breathe … one, because we’re wearing a mask and it’s hard; but two, it’s okay. I have five seconds to breathe,’” Morrow said.

In the midst of many changes, these two off-campus homes emphasize the importance of connection both online and off. “Especially when it gets really busy, it’s going to be really nice to just … be myself and enjoy company with friends that I really love and still feel partially connected to JBU,” Nelson said.

Photo courtesy of Grant Durr