In addition to students, there are organizations at the university that have created their own Discord groups. Image: Dasser Kamran/Fulcrum
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Unofficial U of O Discord group provides place for hundreds to socialize, study and connect

With the pandemic exacerbating the stress and difficulties of university life, University of Ottawa students have created a Discord group to connect with fellow classmates.

Discord, a messaging app originally designed for the gaming community, provides users with the ability to create their own micro-forums where they can communicate through text, audio and video. 

The app has evolved over time and with over 44 million users and has now firmly planted itself as one of the kings of general online communication, a feat that has been broadened during the pandemic

For students suffering from the isolation of lockdowns, apps like Discord can be an essential tool to maintain both grades and a social life, albeit a virtual one.

While not officially affiliated with the U of O, the group has acted as a place for students to talk about classes, organize study groups and crack a few jokes. 

John Sanvictores, a third-year electrical engineering student, has been a member of the group since November 2019. Like many students, he initially struggled with virtual learning.

“I think moving the classes online really messed up the way I study and learn,” said Sanvictores.

 “It’s a very different vibe to learn in a Zoom class than in person … I do my best to keep in touch with everyone online through messaging apps like Discord but it’s really not the same as in person.”

Since joining the Discord group, Sanvictores has seen how online community messaging apps can help students get through the pandemic while in person activities are rendered impossible.

“Discord has done a lot in making the transition to online very smooth. I use it a lot to talk with others about the classes that I’m in,” he said. 

“ I also don’t think Discord is an ultimate replacement for in-person meetups but it really helps with how things are going … life would be very different for me without Discord.”

In addition to students, there are organizations at the university that have created their own Discord groups to help stay in touch and get their work done in familiar communities. 

Hassan Ahmed, president of Campus Vibez uOttawa (CVUO), said that the CVUO team has created a Discord group to facilitate work during the pandemic. The group had previously used Zoom for their online communications but, according to Ahmed, it was not sufficient for their needs on a technical level.

“[Discord has] been super helpful. It’s the fastest way to get on a video or voice call since it’s always open,” wrote Ahmed in an email. 

It will be interesting to see what will happen to Discord once the pandemic begins to wine. Will the app continue its exponential growth? Or will it be toss to the wayside and join obsolete online communication platforms such as Windows Live Chat (MSN) and MySpace.