Scrolling the maroon and white feed: Student groups promote on Instagram


James Zaidman , Staff Writer

A platform to advertise events and recruit members, student clubs, publications, and teams. use Instagram to play a small but integral role for clubs to branch out and add a virtual layer to their school presence.

The Governing Rules for Clubs & Pubs on the student life website outlines rules for student organization’s online presence. Every post must be reviewed by the club’s faculty advisor before it can be posted and if a student does not agree to be shown in a post, then the picture must be taken down from the account. To maintain registration, clubs are required to follow rules on interaction and engagement on social media.

At the start of each academic year, clubs and publications are told that they must understand and abide by all rules listed on the website, Dean of Students Michael Dalo wrote in an email. The rules for clubs and publications on social media were added to the Student Life page at the start of the 2021-22 academic year, with small revisions made over the year, Dalo wrote.

One club using Instagram, (332 followers), often posts in the weeks before production with behind-the-scenes and teaser content. Representing the Horace Mann Theatre Company (HMTC), the account features many candids of students at work in rehearsal and stage crew, with captions of puns and jokes that are relevant to the show’s themes. Leading up to the Middle Division musical “James and the Giant Peach,” captions included “PEACHerific,” “PEACHtastic,” and “Peach Perfect.”

Before HMTC Communications Director Athena Spencer (12) posts photos, they approve them with HMTC faculty advisors Jonathan Nye and Haila VanHentenryck. Because the account is affiliated with the school, both Nye and VanHentenryck have access to the account to ensure nothing posted represents the school in a negative light, Nye said.

Spencer said that the account encourages more students to attend productions and support their classmates by showing them the months-long process behind putting together a show. “All of the theater happens in the basement in the corner of the entire school,” Spencer said. The Instagram shows the school what HMTC is working on without them having to visit the scene shop or theater. “I have all these really cool pictures of sets, people building things, and people having fun doing acting and singing.”

Despite managing the account, Spencer doesn’t like to think of the account as her own. Instead, she acts as if she is the steward of the account until next year when someone else takes over. She is proud that the account is the second-most-followed club account at the school and is always excited when students comment on posts. 

The HMTC was one of the first clubs to adopt social media, posting for the first time in 2017, Nye said. “We were all leery about social media, so we were trying to figure it out with Mr. Kenner and other members of the administration — what we should do, and how we should go about it, because of the issues associated with social media.” Luckily, there has never been an instance in which an advisor or the school has had to intervene with the account, Nye said. 

Morgan Bart (12), the administrator of @hmfrcrobotics (177 followers), representing the Basement Lions FRC team, enjoys posting moments from team meetings and competitions, she said. Their goal is to introduce other teams to the Lions before competitions by communicating through direct messages. One time, a team from Turkey messaged the account about the New York regional competition so they could get to know members of the Basement Lions, Bart said.

Bart also aims to break stereotypes about the robotics team to recruit members, such as the idea that the team is all business. Last year, when the team traveled to Houston for the final competition, she posted many moments from the trip, such as a team dinner and the team posing next to a water fountain. “It shows that we have fun too, so I think that it made some students more open to the idea of Robotics if they checked the Instagram.” The FRC team had more signups this year at the club fair than last, and although Bart cannot be sure that the posts made a concrete difference, she was encouraged that the posts were working by the better numbers, she said.

Even though posts on the FRC account do not go through advisor approval, Bart always asks for approval from all members of the team who are in a photo before posting, she said. Also, if a team member ever initially agreed and felt uncomfortable after the fact, the post would be taken down without hesitation, she said.

Team accounts, such as the Girls Varsity team’s instagram, @horacemann_gvt (274 followers) post team spirit pics and announce matches to bring people to games. Most of the captions are energetic and feature many emojis, with a strong sense of confidence when a team emerges victorious. In one pajama-themed spirit post, a caption read “WAKE UP GVTS PLAYING AGAIN TODAY.”

Like the FRC team’s account, the administrators of the tennis account do not ask their coach before they post on the account, Allison Markman (12) said. However, they always keep their posts lighthearted and respect the wishes of team members if they do not want to be featured on the account. In general, the team’s goal is to use the account as a fun, creative outlet as opposed to a strictly-run one, she said.

Interacting with clubs on Instagram keeps students updated on what is going on in other clubs, Celia Stafford (11) said. Although she doesn’t use Instagram to find new clubs that she might be interested in, she enjoys how they post about upcoming events that she is excited to attend. Stafford also likes how her friends are featured on different clubs’ Instagrams, showing the hard work that they put into their extracurriculars, she said.

Early in the school year, the first of the school’s departments decided to create an Instagram: Katz Library’s @hmkatzlibrary (94 followers). The decision was because of the library’s long history of outreach with students at the school in creative ways, Librarian Susannah Goldstein said. The amount of time students spend on the platform and its potential to send out visual graphics, as opposed to text-only emails, excited Goldstein.

While she is unsure of how much of an effect the Instagram has had on the library’s engagement, students have mentioned posts from the account that encouraged them to interact with the library’s services. Posts on the library’s Instagram connected books to current events like the World Cup, showcase fun events in the library, and recommend readings. 

Since the Library account is run by faculty, they had to take extra steps to ensure appropriate interactions on the account, she said. “If you are interacting with students on social media, you need to make sure that everything is professional and aboveboard. So, we came up with a long list of guidelines that would ensure those boundaries and make students feel comfortable interacting with us on social media.”