Our common thread: How a year of written messages connected our campus

Friday, April 26, 2019
by Edna Bozhori

Picture this. The year is 2018 and you’re walking up the stairs to the second floor of South Campus Hall. You grab some food from Southside Marketplace and head over to sit in Velocity. That’s when you see it… 

A wall - full of colours and messages.

You ask yourself, “what is all this?...

Photo of the quilt wall hallway on the second floor of SCH

Let’s rewind.

From September 2017 to August 2018, the Writing & Communication Centre started a new project. As mentioned in a previous blog post, we wanted to create a space where students could come together as a writing community. To achieve this, we asked students to help us make a “quilt” by writing messages in response to the hashtag “#WhyIWrite”.

While it may have started with this prompt, the Writing Centre wall on the 2nd floor of SCH quickly became a community board. Students wrote a total of 944 messages on the brightly coloured cards that were provided. The project grew into a mosaic of UWaterloo student culture. They also gave us a glimpse into the campus mind.

With the help of my fellow co-ops, we looked for trends among the many submissions. We created categories for the re-emerging themes. It was amazing to see the dialogue that had occurred, both on the cards and between them. Students wrote cards in response to other students, or simply scribbled another message onto a pre-existing card. As you can imagine, there was a lot of overlap and many cards fell into more than one category.

Let's break down the submissions.

Below is a graphic that visualizes the main trends. Each coloured square represents roughly 1% (not to scale).

Visualization of the statistics and trends in a graphic

While these were the most dominant categories, there were definitely some honourable mentions.

#WhyIWrite - Funny enough, only about 6.5% of cards featured students responding to the original prompt.

Pop Culture - About 7.2% of the cards featured a pop culture reference. Some of the most common references were to shows such as The Office, Rick & Morty, and Stranger Things.

UW Memes - It wouldn’t be a UWaterloo forum without some memes. About 2.75% of cards featured a reference to UW culture and inside jokes. #ThankMrGoose

Thoughts - About 7.9% of students were pensive and jotted down some interesting musings for their fellow students to ponder.

Miscellaneous - It’s no surprise that there were a large proportion of cards that were random and couldn’t really be grouped into the other categories. Examples included silly messages, holiday well-wishing, and circuit diagrams.

There were even three crafts… 

Want to see some of the submissions? 

We are putting together a video explaining the story behind the quilt wall and sharing some of our favourites. Stay tuned!

Photo of two submissions: one showing concern, while ther other shows support