The Appalachian

New smiley cards help with isolation and loneliness in dining hall

A+smiley+card+brings+two+students+together+at+lunch+in+Roess+Dining+Hall.+Former+SGA+Senator+Andrew+Strahan+created+the+Smiley+Card+so+that+students+who+don%27t+want+to+sit+alone+during+meals+can+place+a+small+card+with+a+smiling+emoji+on+their+tables+to+designate+that+they+want+someone+to+dine+with+them.+
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New smiley cards help with isolation and loneliness in dining hall

A smiley card brings two students together at lunch in Roess Dining Hall. Former SGA Senator Andrew Strahan created the Smiley Card so that students who don't want to sit alone during meals can place a small card with a smiling emoji on their tables to designate that they want someone to dine with them.

A smiley card brings two students together at lunch in Roess Dining Hall. Former SGA Senator Andrew Strahan created the Smiley Card so that students who don't want to sit alone during meals can place a small card with a smiling emoji on their tables to designate that they want someone to dine with them.

Hayley Canal

A smiley card brings two students together at lunch in Roess Dining Hall. Former SGA Senator Andrew Strahan created the Smiley Card so that students who don't want to sit alone during meals can place a small card with a smiling emoji on their tables to designate that they want someone to dine with them.

Hayley Canal

Hayley Canal

A smiley card brings two students together at lunch in Roess Dining Hall. Former SGA Senator Andrew Strahan created the Smiley Card so that students who don't want to sit alone during meals can place a small card with a smiling emoji on their tables to designate that they want someone to dine with them.

Cameron Stuart, News Reporter

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The Student Government Association has added some extra smiles to Roess Dining Hall.

The Smiley Card Act, posed by Andrew Strahan, a former SGA Senator for the College of Arts and Sciences, was passed in the fall and came into effect in January.

“It’s a pretty simple initiative,” Strahan said. “It’s just pictures of smiley emojis. And if you’re sitting by yourself, or you’re sitting with friends and you want other people to come sit with you, you just grab a card, and you place it on your table for others to see.”

The smiley cards are located next to the trays in Rivers Street Cafe and next to the cash registers in Sanford Commons.

Strahan, a senior political science and economics major, said the idea for the act came from a Japanese restaurant where employees noticed a lot of seniors came in and sat by themselves, and they wanted to help change that.

“A, it was just taking up too much space and B, it was just unnecessary because all these seniors were lonely and they needed friends,” Strahan said.

Strahan said as an out-of-state transfer student he understands the loneliness, isolation and social anxiety that comes with not knowing anyone at a unitversity, and he wanted to do something about that.

“App State students are often characterized in the winter as having a lull in attitude—this sense of loneliness,” Strahan said. “So this card is not a perfect fix for that, but I think it is super quick, super easy and super effective.”

Strahan said his act passed easily because of the support from Food Services.

Hayley Canal
A smiley card brings two students together at lunch in Roess Dining Hall. Former SGA Senator Andrew Strahan created the Smiley Card so that students who don’t want to sit alone during meals can place a small card with a smiling emoji on their tables to designate that they want someone to dine with them.

“My vision was that it would take a couple weeks, a couple months even, to pick up and for people to notice that it was happening,” Strahan said.

Stephanie Lee, communications specialist for Food Services, said the dining experience is about more than just eating.

“People focus a lot on food, but your dining experience is everything,” Lee said. “So, anytime we can make that better for students, it seems like a no-brainer.”

Strahan said cashiers have told him the cards are being used, and SGA has received positive feedback through social media.

While there is no exact data, Lee said she eats in Rivers Street Cafe almost every day and has noticed faculty, staff, students and groups of people sit down with smiley cards.

“Right now we’re just in a learning phase,” Lee said. “We’re going to see how it works here and learn the best practices, and then have a conversation about moving forward.”

Strahan said because he will graduate in May, a stipulation in the bill requires the director of student affairs, Jack Watson, to talk about the bill’s with Pam Cline, director of Food Services.

“If it isn’t working, that is Pam Cline’s and Jack’s decision to disband it. But if it is working, then I encourage them to find bigger and better ways that we could utilize it,” Strahan said. “We bought enough for just Roess, however, if it does work out then we want to make sure that Trivette has some and also Cascades.”

Lee said that as long as students and SGA want this program to continue, Food Services is a willing partner.

Strahan said this bill was different for him than his other bills because there is more tangible proof it is working. He said he believes this is the most important bill he has written.

“I think this speaks to who Appalachian is, that we want to be open to meeting people and making sure that everyone feels welcome on our campus,” Lee said.

About the Photographer
Hayley Canal, Staffer

Sophomore Communication, Journalism and Sustainable Development major

E-mail: canalha@appstate.edu

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New smiley cards help with isolation and loneliness in dining hall