Raftr, a social network for campus groups and events co-founded by Sue Decker (E ’84) and developed by her company Tripledip, officially announced its partnership with Tufts in the Jumbo Digest on Oct. 15. Tufts is serving as a pilot school for the app, according to Mickey Toogood, communications and multimedia specialist in the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, who is currently working on promoting the app at Tufts.
Raftr is geared toward creating private social networks based in particular college communities, according to its website. Decker, former chief financial officer and president of Yahoo, explained that she wanted to create an app that fills a gap in the market of existing online social networks.
“There wasn’t an app at Tufts specifically towards social purposes, so I wanted to introduce a network with a college specific domain, that was digital and in real time,” Decker said.
Decker explained the process of gauging support for such an app.
“We created a survey for college kids from Tufts, Tulane, Stanford and Columbia in which over 150 students expressed an interest in an app like Raftr,” she said.
Decker added that Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon also believed that a network like that was exactly what the university needed.
“Raftr’s goal, in a nutshell, is to help build online communities and foster dialogue around common interests,” Toogood told the Daily in an email.
Decker explained the logic behind the app’s name.
“The mascot for the app is an otter and a group of otters linked together is called a raft,” Decker said. “Rafts can include hundreds of otters connected with one another by holding hands and we use this as a metaphor for our communities.”
According to Toogood, the app is different than existing social media options.
“[Raftr] connects students to fellow classmates and events in real time in ways that are more thoughtful and intentional than other social media platforms,” Toogood said.
Upon downloading the app, students are automatically connected to three rafts: “What’s Happening Today?”, “Ask Me Anything” and “Free Food,” the first of which is run in combination with the Office for Campus Life (OCL), Decker said.
Toogood stressed that the “Free Food” raft also allows students to find free food on campus in real time and to spread awareness about events where free food is being served.
“In other words, Raftr is not just as a place where you can post information, but it’s a dynamic tool for promoting events and initiatives at Tufts,” he said.
There has been significant student involvement in promoting the app, Toogood said, including senior Eugenia Naamon and Decker’s daughter Caelyn Dovey, a junior. Through tabling in the Mayer Campus Center, putting up flyers and distributing “otter bottles,” student ambassadors have begun introducing various student groups to Raftr.
Decker said that organizations on campus such as Tufts Community Union Senate and Tufts Dance Collective have already created rafts on the application. She added that there are features to make rafts private so as to suit the needs of different groups.
In the future, Decker said that there would be a rollout of the app in various other colleges, starting in 2018. She added that universities as far as South Asia and Latin America have shown interest in Raftr.
Joseph Golia, director of the OCL, sees a positive future for Raftr.
“Raftr seems to be unique and connecting students on different interests and topics,” Golia said. “If they start to use it regularly, it could be a very effective application on campus.”