Another Online Course. Another Discord Server.

I didn’t really use Discord before the pandemic, but after the Fall 2020 semester, I wouldn’t want to go back to a time without it. 

A simple user profile on Discord

What exactly is Discord? It’s an app used to communicate that was initially aimed at gamers. So basically, Discord is Slack for Gen Z. 

A server within Discord is essentially a community. Servers can contain multiple text and voice chats and different roles that each user (or member) can be assigned.

Roles can give a user certain permissions within a server. They can also be used for purely cosmetic purposes.

Users can also display the music they are listening to or the games they are playing at the moment on their profile. They can also link various accounts (from apps like Reddit, Spotify, Steam, etc.) to their profile, which allows for a bit of personalization. 

Discord can be a bit overwhelming at first, but because of the amount of activity/communities, I think the initial learning curve is worth it. 

There are discord servers for various UVic courses, course unions, faculties, and clubs. Most servers are moderated by students and most users are students (although I have seen some TAs, instructors, and professors on servers as well).

There is even a server that serves as a repository for most of UVic’s Discord servers where students can look for/add servers for their courses, course unions, etc. Suitably, it’s named the UVic Discord Server Repository.

The UVSS (University of Victoria Students’ Society – our undergrad student society) has a server that has been used every online semester for Clubs and Course Unions day. Which is actually coming up soon on January 19th and 20th.

Just a few of the text chats (which contain links to servers) from the UVic Discord Server Repository.

Looking back to the Spring and Summer 2020 terms, I felt alone. They were my first terms fully online, and it was (what we thought was) the height of the pandemic, filled with social distancing restrictions, students moving back home, etc.

My life was a constant cycle of sleeping, eating, and studying with close to no interactions with other students (other than in maybe the chat function within Zoom).

Looking back, I don’t think any instructors, professors, or students had a great time during those semesters.

While there were UVic discord servers before the pandemic, the community definitely grew during Fall 2020. Because when Fall 2020 came around, links for Discord servers were dropped in almost every classes’ Zoom chats.

Everyone who joined wanted to feel a sense of community, even it was only virtual. And it worked; the servers created a space for us to share endless struggles, discussions, and memes, all in one convenient place.

Of course, the amount of activity in each server varies depending on the course and the people in it. I’ve been in servers where it’s a monotonous chat with almost no activity and also part of ones that have sparked petitions that have reached over 1,500 signatures from the UVic community. So it can be pretty hit or miss in terms of how much engagement there is.

When it was time to come back to mostly in-person schooling in Fall 2021, I finally had the chance to meet some of the users I met online in person. But I also found that the amount of activity on various UVic Discord servers decreased which was a bit bittersweet. However, I definitely think the use of Discord will make a comeback this Spring semester considering our first weeks are online. 

I may not know the faces, or even names, of all the people I have met over Discord, but that feeling of community on some servers has been unmatched. 

Here’s to another week (or possibly few weeks) online. 

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