In the wake of COVID-19, new communities are hard to find. The days of meeting new people and hanging out on campus are on hold, but what if students could meet 700+ new peers and hang out with them daily at the push of a button?

Sophie Lin, a freshman majoring in Business Administration, needed a place to connect with people — so she took it into her own hands. What began in August as a small idea has exploded into a thriving community with tons of active members and events every day through the use of her Discord server called the USCord.

Discord is a messaging platform where people can use text, voice, or video to communicate with friends and find or create new communities.

According to the Los Angeles Times, not even small gatherings like game nights are safe during the pandemic; however, the USCord is helping students remain connected, providing ways to meet new friends online.

During her USC Marshall School of Business freshmen welcome night, Lin asked around if there were any group chats for Marshall freshmen. Turns out there were none, so Lin thought to create one of her own. She decided to create it on Discord, invited the freshman from the welcome event and told them to invite their friends. Those freshmen also posted the invitation to several GroupMe chats and within 24 hours there were 100 members. As of today, it’s past 700.

“I originally joined the discord because my roommate invited me to come to join and help the freshmen answer questions about school and clubs,” said Alan Wang, a sophomore majoring in law, history, and culture. “What really keeps me around is the community that we’ve built over this past month.” According to Wang, Discord has proven crucial in keeping touch with those people.

What began as a way to communicate with classmates morphed into a giant community welcome to all USC students. Within this community, there are places to talk about anything a student’s heart desires with other people who share the same interests. Whether they want to talk about various video games, music, memes, food, art, etc. there’s a place for it.

And if they feel like there isn’t a place, Sophie and the rest of the USCord staff are always taking suggestions on what to include next.

“I think having an online community that... mimics being around others is really helpful in maneuvering college life,” said Melody Liu, a freshman majoring in cognitive science.

The server is not only a place to talk with people though; Lin and the other members of her staff work together to host events every night such as karaoke, game nights, and watch parties. These events are key to promoting engagement, unlike other USC club Discords that host events once a week at most.

If students have questions about what classes to take or what clubs to join, they won’t be alone. The majority of members on the USCord are freshmen who are riddled with questions. Luckily, there are upperclassmen who have special titles and are generally willing to help according to members of the server.

Another part of the server that makes students feel right at home is the different voice channels that are chat rooms where students can join and leave as they please. These voice channels are all named after notable places on campus where students used to be able to hang out. If a student wants to feel like they’re back in McCarthy Quad or studying quietly in Leavey Library, they can join the respective voice channel.

The USCord is not the only one made by USC students, but it has grown the fastest by far and she attributes it to being the most inclusive. Other large servers are affiliated with clubs on campus like Summoner School and USC Esports. These clubs are inherently more exclusive by catering to people who are interested in League of Legends or Esports respectively. Whereas the USCord is just about being from USC and wanting to connect with people.

“Our members come from all walks of USC life. There are no restrictions on who from USC can join and as a result, we have a diverse range of unique and interesting characters that make our server so fun,” Wang said.