By Max Mertens
Dan Lytwyn doesn’t like being misunderstood.
The Toronto Star recently interviewed the fourth-year RTA student, and author of the Ryerson Campus Life blog, about Campus Life.
The resulting article painted Lytwyn as ‘Ryerson’s Gossip Girl’ and made comparisons to other university blogs that discuss things like the best locations for private make-out sessions and recommendations on the easiest classes to take.
Lytwyn is no gossip hound, but he isn’t the kind of rebel the Star article implies he is either. Although he may not be above arguing the merits of a yogurt bowl, he’d still like to be taken seriously as an honest voice on campus life.
“This isn’t a renegade blog, I’m not typing in my basement,” says Lytwyn. Student services approached Lytwyn in late April after he responded to a job posting regarding it. The university was revamping its website and they wanted to hire an online personality to discuss life on campus.
Yet Student Services decided that, rather than hire someone from outside the school — who as Lytwyn says “[the] kids would have picked up on” — they would hire an actual student.
So Lytwyn was asked to report on his experiences and how he saw life on campus.
Lytwyn’s interest in broadcast started at an early age. Now he is working on a short film for his practicum project. But as he decided to launch a video blog, he was given complete creative control from the school. He hopes that he can foster a vibrant online community.
“I like to keep it video, keep it dynamic,” says Lytwyn of his choice to go with video over text.
Whatever the case, Student Services is happy with his work so far.
“They trust my judgment,” says Lytwyn.
He says that he didn’t turn to other blogs in the planning process.
“If you search for inspiration on other blogs you end up imitating them,” says Lytwyn.
The blog officially launched at the end of August.
The list of topics and events that Lytwyn has covered on his blog range from move-in day, to light-hearted reviews of The Ram in the Rye to a Guinness World Record attempt for plastic sword fighting — which Lytwyn admits ‘isn’t the easiest’ to cover while carrying around a laptop.
While Lytwyn doesn’t consider himself a ‘news gatherer’ or even a writer, his goal is to cover anything that is generating discussion from the student body. He says he strives to be an “impartial mediator.”
There is a limit, however, to what Lytwyn says he’d cover for his blog.
“Lines are drawn up and so far I’ve drawn those lines,” says Lytwyn.
For instance, if an unfortunate tragedy happened to occur on campus, he’d be wary of addressing it for fear of exploiting the event like other blogs.
Now that Lytwyn’s met with some success the big question is: what happens next?
Something that he would like to do is incorporate music into the blog and speak to local musicians and celebrities that generate enough word-of-mouth on campus.
Lytwyn also hopes that he can interview people that interest the student body, but keep a unique Ryerson angle. He knows that it’s easy to just become another celebrity gossip blog.
In spite of all this, Lytwyn is the first to admit he has no master plan for the future of Campus Life.
For now, he is content to continue posting videos and spreading the word about the blog through word of mouth and the blog’s Facebook page. Lytwyn says that he is very proud of the blog and how much independence he has been granted.
“I hate to use such a general statement, but it’s only going to get a lot better,” he says.
To check out Dan’s blog go to www.ryerson.ca/campuslife.