Foothill College's Student News Publication

The Foothill Script

Foothill College's Student News Publication

The Foothill Script

Foothill College's Student News Publication

The Foothill Script

CampusConnect: A Web App by and for Foothill Students

Do you have trouble making friends or connections with others at Foothill? Perhaps the friends you made last quarter are ostensibly MIA because your new schedules don’t match up or they transferred out. It seems like you’re back at square one with each new quarter you attend; new instructors, new faces, new routine, and the networking tango dance is becoming exhausting. You may find yourself yearning for fellowship with other people attending Foothill as you walk by the quad and see study groups sharing stories and laughter as they click away on their laptops and sip on coffee from KJ’s. 

Neil Rustagi, Creator of CampusConnect

Let’s face it: Foothill College lacks a campus culture, and there’s virtually no one to blame for it. Despite Foothill being rated the #1 online Community College in California, it finds itself in the classist and sterile paradigm of community colleges—a stigma that views community colleges as not respectable due to their open admission and convenience. However, Foothill College has continually made efforts to foster a campus culture (i.e., the athletics department, student council, social clubs, and student newspaper), yet most Foothill students find themselves working independently. You can not place the blame on Foothill students either; most students would much rather take their classes and leave once their classes are done, simply because there isn’t enough time to pursue those connections outside the classroom.  

In an interview where he was asked what inspired him to develop a web app called CampusConnect, Neil Rustagi said “There’s a lack of campus culture, and that’s [led] into this realization that there’s a lack of something that’s causing this problem, and that’s when I came up with the idea for CampusConnect.”

CampusConnect is the brainchild of Neil Rustagi, a computer science major attending  Foothill College who is working on an app that would allow students to meet with other students who share similar interests and academic goals. CampusConnect isn’t just another message-based social media platform, but rather an informational tool for students to post their own projects. Users would also be able to make informational and social posts that could connect them with other students looking for people to help with their projects or make new connections.

The idea for CampusConnect came from Rustagi attending OwlHacks with mutual friends, Timothy and Yamm, and seeing them fraternizing after Yamm presented a  workshop on a coding project that he worked on with friends.  

“I was watching them talk, and I know Timothy and I know Yamm, and I was thinking: how come they don’t know each other? Because I was watching them get excited and passionate about the design of the code.” Rustagi continues, “I mean, these are guys who are a year and a half into their Foothill careers, and then I started thinking about my experiences trying to find people with the same amount of experience who want to work on personal projects.”  

Rustagi saw the effects of the absence of a campus culture at Foothill, lamenting that  Timothy and Yamm could have coalesced to work on great collaborative projects. Yet, it took their independent efforts for them to meet each other, as opposed to being acquainted organically through their field of study. Rustagi’s project would facilitate these organic connections through one strategic feature that would involve community participation.  

Rustagi notes, “One possible feature that I was thinking of there could be a map of  campus, like a heat map, almost so you could see where people are hanging out if they  voluntarily check-in.” He continues to expound on this strategy: “I know a lot of times you might be on campus with nothing to do; maybe you have an hour in between classes or an hour before a meeting, and you’re thinking: where do I go to hang out?  And I could name three places, which are the business center (BSS lounge), the Anthro  Lounge, and the ASFC room. In those three places, there are a lot of students who  maybe don’t have those connections, or there are other areas on campus that I don’t  know about.”  

With a possible heat map, students voluntarily check into areas on campus where they’re hanging out and extend the invitation for other students to join for fellowship,  fostering a Foothill campus culture. This strategy may raise some privacy concerns, and 

Rustagi is aware of that. The check-in would be anonymous, and it’s voluntary—it’s not compulsory to log your location. It also wouldn’t require entering a lot of personal data,  so by design, infringement of privacy won’t be a problem as CampusConnect places the power in the hands of the students to use this tool to network with each other.  

Rustagi is working diligently on this project, and he certainly isn’t doing it alone, as he is trying to assemble a team of brilliant minds at Foothill as well as others who can help with the development of the app outside of coding. Although this app is still in its first stages of development and won’t see full release until the winter of 2024. Make no mistake that our students are taking the initiative to bridge the gap of being isolated for so long, social dynamics have shifted drastically in this post-COVID world. Nonetheless, Rustagi believes that fostering fellowship among the student body is important. CampusConnect will give solace and a sense of belonging to those yearning for friendship and community, and certainly, this can be the avenue toward that.  

When asked why Foothill students should care about CampusConnect, Rustagi said,  “Because this is a problem that probably most likely affects them, even if they have a personal projects and internships. There’s an undeniable lack of campus culture, and I know from everyone I’ve talked to, that it’s hard to find friends. It’s hard to  get involved in groups because there is no middle ground, and so if you care about  making friends, if you care about growing your personal, academic, and extracurricular portfolio, you should care about this.”

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About the Contributor
Emilio Gutiérrez, Staff Writer
Emilio is a Bay Area native with a passion for art and writing. He joined The Foothill Script to start the new column, La Raza, a column covering news for Chicano/x and Latino/x people. He is currently pursuing a double major in Art and Business Administration—particularly in marketing.

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