Commons Campaign: Elevator Chat
Group: Becca Schrack, Abby Gohl, Maddie Duven
Over the course of our first year as students of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, we’ve noticed that people chronically don’t make conversation in elevators. Because of the lack of communication, what is left is an awkward-at best- encounter followed by relief when it’s finally over. Our goal for this campaign was to research this problem to prove that our opinions are justified, address the problem head on, and research the aftermath in hopes of finding an improved social environment. We will achieve our goal by putting up posters in the elevators to increase elevator sociability and using #elevatorchatUNL to spread the message to students across campus.
The exigence for this campaign is that elevator rides are an awkward setting that could potentially be a great place to meet people. Nothing is being done about it currently and the urgency to do something about it now is that hopefully future dorm students won’t have to go through the same awkward encounters. The audience of this campaign will be tailored towards the students who ride dorm elevators, and more specifically the students who live in Harper, Schramm, Smith, and Abel/Sandoz. Some of the constraints that we might face in implementing this campaign are students ignoring the signs, faculty not giving us the go ahead for the signs, or vandalism. To counteract these constraints we will check the elevators as often as we can to see if they’re in need of replacement. We will also pitch our idea to the housing office with a visual representation of what we plan to put in the elevators as well as the research concerning elevator anti-sociability. One of the affordances is that people are intrinsically social-which we hope to bring to the surface through this campaign. We agree that this campaign creates the opportunity to interact in a more comfortable and social environment for students to build relationships. If our campaign fails, it still creates the opportunity to address an awkward circumstance that a lot of college students face and hopefully make people more aware of it for the future. Our proposal is a fitting response because it opens the door for students to talk to each other in an otherwise awkward setting. It is more fitting for dorm students than setting up a table because many students ignore hand-outs or tables. Incorporating the Twitter hashtag is also the most fitting response because it uses a very common mode of communication to promote a more interactive type of socialization. We hope to achieve a more social environment in the elevators and to promote face to face conversation in a technology driven generation.
When we were trying to create a campaign we knew we wanted to do something that involved face to face conversation. Through brainstorming, we decided that elevators are the most awkward and recurring social situation on campus. Our proposal is inventive because we have found what we want to say- that elevator rides are unnecessarily antisocial- and how we want to get that message across- through signs that include topics of conversation, ice breakers, and elevator statistics and Twitter hashtags. We’re also including research to show the data collected before and after of our campaign and we came to this campaign idea through a drawn out thought process. The arrangement that we are using is original and intentional. We will start by researching elevator sociability without the students being aware. From this information we will develop signs to put in the elevators that will have a hashtag at the top. We will then research the sociability again, with hopefully better results. The reason this arrangement is intentional is because it gives students the comfort of a Twitter hashtag associated with the uncomfort of face to face talking. The hope is that the prior will encourage the latter but it could go either way. We will incorporate style by using social topics that a wide variety of students can relate to. It is creative because it uses a more common mode of socialization (Twitter) to promote a less common mode of socialization (face to face). By taking what students are used to and twisting it, we are creating a path that is easy to follow. We will put the signs on Twitter as well to increase the visibility. Through Tweets we will use a more fun style to hopefully get students involved. Our campaign will be memorable through a proposal to the Housing staff at the end of our campaign. It will be a brief but urgent message that these posters should continue in following years. The best case scenario is that future students will have easy ways to talk to each other in elevators from the get go. The delivery of our campaign has to be playful enough that students don’t feel awkward getting involved but straightforward enough that it is taken seriously. The goal of our delivery is to remain lighthearted but memorable.
Time Log/ Evidence:
On April 4th we created a Google Doc to discuss the project being put into action and created graphs to record the elevator rides. On April 7th we met with housing of Abel/Sandoz and Harper/Schramm/Smith to get approval of posters in elevators.
During the week of April 10-16 we divided our time among the 6 chosen elevator locations- Abel 1 and 2, Sandoz, Harper, Schramm, and Smith to record elevator sociability without the posters. The week of collecting data proved to take more time than we originally thought it would. Waiting around by the elevators until other people came and running into people that just saw you on the elevator ten seconds ago was awkward. Gathering ten elevator rides from two different locations ended up taking a few hours each day.
April 11th and 13th:
Maddie: Harper 12-1pm, Sandoz 1:15-2pm
Abby: Schramm 3:00-3:45pm, Abel 4:00-4:45pm
Becca: Smith 11:30-12:30pm, Abel 12:45-1:30pm
April 12th and 14th:
Maddie: Harper 3:30-4:15pm, Sandoz 4:30-5:30pm
Abby: Schramm 3:30-4:15pm , Abel 4:30-5:15pm
Becca: Smith 3:30-4:15pm, Abel 4:30-5:20pm
The week of putting up posters was a disaster. When we began this project everything seemed that it would go as planned. We met with Abel housing to see if they would allow posters in the elevators for a week span and showed them our potential posters. The man we talked to seemed to know for a fact that it would be no problem at all. On Monday, the posters went up in the morning at Harper, Schramm, Smith, Abel, and Sandoz- a total of 12 elevators. All three of us were able to get our hours in for that day but towards the evening the posters were gone. We decided to talk to housing on Tuesday about the issue. When we went to ask again if the posters could be put up, the Housing director of Abel told us it was fine and to bring down printed copies of the posters so she could sign them. When we returned with the hard copies she went back on her word and said that posters in the elevators are a fire hazard because someone could light them on fire. As an alternative, she said we could tape them up on the ground floor between the elevators where the up and down buttons are. We proceeded to put posters up at all six locations. After an hour or so the posters were taken down again so we were only able to record some rides. On Wednesday and Thursday we put the posters up again but the same thing happened.
Maddie: Harper 12-1pm, Sandoz 1:15-2pm
Abby: Schramm 11-12pm, Abel 12:30-1:30pm
Becca: Smith 11:30-12:30pm, Abel 12:45-1:30pm
Maddie: Sandoz 12-1pm
Abby: Abel 12-12:45pm
Becca: Abel 12:30-1:15pm
Maddie: Harper 12:30-1:15pm
Abby: Schramm 12-1pm
Becca: smith 11:30-12:15pm
Although discouraged by the outcome of the posters, the feedback that we did get was positive. The average percentage of students that talked on elevators without posters based on our collection of data was 24.9%. Elevator sociability rose significantly only when the posters were inside the elevators. On the day that the posters were allowed to be inside the elevators for an extended period of time- Monday- the percentage rose to 52%. To reach a wider audience, Becca posted a poll on her Twitter and the results only confirmed our prior opinions on elevator anti-sociability.
The first day the posters were up, two girls got in the elevator, saw the poster, and said “Oh that’s cool, what’s your major?”. We began talking and learned a little bit about the people around us- a sociology, journalism, and art major. About half way through the week a couple of tweets popped up with the hashtag we created. We were able to see our project reach people who didn’t attend Lincoln-
We got to see our project taken outside of the elevators-
We even got to see the beginning of love-
more #elevatorchatUNL interactions can be found here
We also interviewed people around Abel to try to get an honest answer as to whether or not the project was successful and if they thought it could be successful in the future. Aaron, from Abel 13, said that he probably wouldn't start more conversation in elevators with posters, but that he would be more comfortable holding a conversation that someone else started.
Reflection/ Changes for the Future:
In our perfect commons campaign world, everyone would be a social butterfly willing to break out of their comfort zones and spark a conversation. We learned that even though that isn't the case, giving people the opportunity to do so can be a challenging and surprising experience. Based on the evidence of our campaign, I think it is safe to say that elevator sociability is typically low on UNL's campus. By giving students a comfortable stepping stone to propel them, overall conversation rose significantly. Seeing strangers ask each other questions and be in the present rather than attached to their phones was something we won't forget. Had the logistics of this project gone more smoothly, I have no doubt that students would have gained confidence and comfortability as time went on. If this project were to be repeated, it would be smart to contact the housing staff well in advance with a note from our professor and to put posters in more places than just inside the elevators to increase visibility. Whether or not this project leaves a lasting mark on the students of Lincoln, it momentarily created a place where depth experience could be cultivated.