Before attending UR, students are encouraged to tour the campus. Heeding this advice as a prospective student, my family packed up for a quick stop in Rochester. We made stops at all the familiar places – Wilson Commons (which, I quickly learned, was designed by I.M. Pei), Todd Union (the former student union), the Residential Quad, the Fraternity Quad (where I heard about how “cool” the parties are), the Eastman Quadrangle and the Interfaith Chapel, to mention a few. While stationed at the Chapel, we were informed of the webcam fixed atop the building. “Yes!” my dad exclaimed “You can call and talk to me while I’m looking at you!” Great, I thought, one more opportunity for my parents to keep tabs on me from 380 miles away from home.

My mom, since the discovery of the webcam, has not ceased nagging me to call her and say hi on camera. I’m still surprised that she was able to figure out how to find the Web site to see me!

These webcams have not only helped me stay tight with the parental units but also with my alum chums. Last year, I received an SOS text message from my friend at Washington University Law School. Apparently, his class lecture was less than thrilling and I was recruited to provide a diversion. Within a few moments, I was able to supplement a boring lecture with a quick hello via webcam. Diversion accomplished.

Yet, it appears, moms and alums aren’t the only ones admiring the webcam technology installed upon our campus. A recent article in Christian Science Monitor, a current events journal, published a composition about webcams on college campuses across the country. It appears that the UR was the forerunner in installing these handy little devices.

Installed in both Wilson Commons and the Interfaith Chapel, these cameras allow parents, friends and alumni to scan and survey the campus or catch a glimpse of student life – and it appears that parents are doing just that.

“There’s a community aspect – waving to your parents, saying ‘hi’ to friends, scheduling times to be by the webcam – that’s growing,” says president of Campus Tours Inc, a company that builds online campus tours, Chris Carson.

UR Dean of Students Jody Asbury confirmed this. “I see students on the balcony, talking to their mothers and waving at the camera, about once a week,” Asbury said. It seems that, perhaps, our generation of students focuses on a greater connectedness with parents. With “helicopter parents” – moms and dads that can’t resist calling daily to check up on us – the webcam Web site is a frequent hit.

“The establishment of these webcams has seemingly created a generation of parents who are more aware and in touch with their children. It seems that parents are more engaged,” Asbury said.

While some students wave hello to their mothers weekly from the “Hi, Mom” balcony, others may simply use it to catch up with friends they rarely see. “My parents really liked being able to see me wave hello,” junior Krystie Morrissey said. “I liked having that informal connection to them, so I’m not really that far away from them as it seems.”

Ricketts is a member of the class of 2007.

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