Campus-themed Internet memes gaining traction

February 16, 2012

Coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976, the term "meme" has come to refer to online memes -- ideas that spread through populations via the Web. Campus-themed memes have gone viral at Canadian and American institutions. Many students have replicated the popular "Sh*t Girls Say" meme in reference to their own institution. (Variations in Canada include those at the University of Calgary, Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Ottawa). Others have posted variations on another meme in which a student or a professor juxtaposes the warped perceptions of his or her field from various perspectives, including his or her own, with the mundane reality. The CEO of note-sharing service NoteWagon has set up Facebook meme pages for a number of Canadian and American institutions. There is scant evidence of pushback from campus communications officials. The NoteWagon CEO, who is a former University of Waterloo student, says he was asked by SFU and University of Toronto officials to remove their logo from Facebook meme pages, which he did, but reports no stern notes from lawyers at any other institution. "The memes are funny and should be allowed their five minutes of viral fame," says the communications director at Santa Clara University, but one PSE marketing expert cautions institutional officials against trying to "get on the bandwagon and embrace memes, " as they "generally have a negative and snarky tone." Inside Higher Ed