The Tale of St. Bonaventure and their Video Booth
St. Bonaventure University is a Franciscan university located in Olean, NY — but you probably knew this, already, because WNY is a fairly small place. And because of their strong Franciscan roots — St. Francis. Friars. Religion. Mass. Compassion. Poverty. — they wanted to highlight their Franciscan character in a way that speaks to a wider variety of students. After all, St. Francis himself was a bit of a rebel.
But how do you get a bunch of 18 – 22 year olds excited about the role that Franciscan values play in their college educations? Enter TQS (that’s us). How do you get them excited about it? Give them a platform to talk about it in their own words. On their own terms. On their own time.
We built them a video booth. We created graphics for the outside to lure in students (in the least creepy way possible to “lure” young people into anything). We created a welcome video letting students know what we hoped they’d talk about inside. We set it up in a high-traffic area on campus to make sure students would have easy access. We began recording 45-second videos of students, alone, with a friend, or occasionally in groups, talking about St. Bonaventure.
We wanted students to talk about the goodness they experience on campus. St. Bonaventure is rooted in the values of St. Francis, which can be loosely summed up to describe goodness: being kind to each other. Loving the planet and everything on it. Being compassionate and forgiving. Contributing something good to the world.
Maybe students witness goodness at a basketball game when the whole school comes together to root root root for the home team. Maybe they witness it while they’re volunteering at the student-run soup kitchen. Maybe they witness it through the bonds they form through shared experiences. Maybe they witness it in quiet moments of contemplation. Maybe they witness it when a professor grants them a much-needed extension out of kindness.
The point is, we don’t really know unless we ask them, right? If anyone knows anything about young people, it’s that what we think they think is usually not accurate. So we could sit here for months and try to figure out where and how students are most likely to identify with the Franciscan values instilled in their education. Or we could just ask them. We’ve collected hours of footage so far, and we’re still going. One thing is for certain: today’s students, having grown up in a social media world, love the opportunity to talk on camera.
Is all the footage exactly what we wanted? Nope. Not even close. Is it still valuable? You bet. We got the students talking. We reminded them that they have the incredibly unique opportunity to study at a university that doesn’t just send them to 120 credit hours worth of classes and kick them out the door in to a cold, cruel world where jobs are hard to find and now you have to get one, and support yourself.
Some of the videos are exactly what we wanted. Some of them just show how much fun SBU students are having. Some of them showcase the bonds that have formed over shared experiences, even if the students are talking about something else. Some of them have no real use except hopefully a fun memory for the student of their time at SBU.
This footage is the first step toward future marketing campaigns for SBU. Candid, off-the-cuff, non-coerced clips of actual students talking about what their lives are actually like at SBU. We think that’s pretty special.