“Tell us something that most people don’t know about you.”
The opening line from the team behind the Student of UO Instagram page is a vague, open-ended question, but according to the original creator Connor Yap, it gets results.
“I feel like most people that have an interesting story are able to share it, because I think it’s for the greater good of our community at school, for people to know that they’ve gone through these hurdles or that they have this fascinating story,” Yap, a business administration major, said.
The page, which has 350 followers and a dozen posts, is operated by three juniors — Yap, Alonso Zorrilla and Antonio Wiley — and freshman Henry Amnann.
“We wanted to create a page that would help build a sense of community on campus once it got big enough,” Yap said. “We are firm believers that everyone has a story because everyone comes from a unique background.”
“[We’re] definitely trying to show how diverse the University of Oregon is in a variety of ways,” Zorrilla said.
Each team member devotes about five hours per week to maintaining the page. Tasks include finding people for stories, contacting them, meeting with them for the interview and taking their picture. Unlike the comparably bigger “Humans of New York,” Students of UO does not usually partake in spontaneous, on-the-street interviews, but rather prearranges every meet-up.
“I think we’ve gotten kind of lucky with some the people we’ve been able to meet,” Yap said. “We are not necessarily looking for all these crazy people with these crazy stories, but I think stories that are relatable.”
Zorrilla and Yap said their most surprising interviews are usually athletes.
“The one thing I always tell them is: if you want to share your story about how you became an athlete, that’s great, but what I think most people want to know about is what do a lot of people not know about you?” Yap said.
Yap believes that athletes tend to be elevated and semi-famous figures on campus. However, in interviewing them, the Students of UO page avoids labeling and attempts to uncover more in every individual.
“I feel like it’s great to appreciate the athletes and everything they do for this school, but at the same time you don’t want to idolize them. That’s where people sometimes get scared to approach athletes even though every athlete we’ve interviewed is super cool,” Yap said.
Many other UO students now want to be featured on the page. “People are always saying, ‘Hey, can you interview me next?’ “
“For a lot of the people that we interview, I feel like they’re a lot of underdogs and people that have faced adversity, so just not taking anything for granted is one thing I’ve learned from the stories we’ve posted,” Zorrilla said.
“I’m just fascinated by their stories. Some are obviously less subtle than others, like the spearfishing accident. I kind of treat all the stories equally. I’m proud of every story we’ve posted,” Zorrilla added.
“Ultimately what we want to do is we want to help out this school with prospective students and current students,” Yap said. “We want to let them know how diverse our campus is and why this is such a great school to go to.”
You can find the Students of UO Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/studentsofuo/.