SuperFan App Aims To Boost Student Engagement

SuperFan, a new app brought to Amherst’s campus, was launched on April 16 with the aim to boost engagement with campus events by rewarding students for their participation. The app was funded by the AAS, the athletics department, and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

SuperFan, an app that aims to promote student engagement in on-campus events, launched a portal for the Amherst campus on April 16.  Sponsored by the Association of Amherst Students (AAS), the athletics department, and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), the app showcases upcoming events — both athletic and nonathletic — and rewards students for their participation.

SuperFan’s homepage features a chronological list of events that users can scroll through and share with others. By checking into events on the app, students earn points that can be used to purchase a number of rewards. The rewards currently include Amherst merchandise but will expand to include food, experiences, and possibly electronics in the near future, according to a recent post on Instagram by Amherst Athletics.

The idea of bringing SuperFan to Amherst was first introduced by Bryce Lauletta ’22 at an AAS meeting in October 2021. He proposed the idea as a way to combat low engagement with on-campus events, noting that the athletics department had already pledged $1,125 to the initiative.

“Bryce and SAAC were passionate about it, so I wanted to support it,” said Director of Athletics Donald Faulstick in a statement to The Student. “I think SuperFan is a fun way for students to support each other’s co-curricular activities.”

The AAS provided Lauletta $2,250 in funding to use toward the initial creation of Amherst’s SuperFan portal. Based on Lauletta’s testimony, AAS Senator Gent Malushaga ’25 chose to adopt SuperFan as his Senate project. The platform was finally able to launch after months of working to develop the app and secure prizes.

“Even in the first couple of months that I was here, I identified a similar problem [of non-participation],” said Malushaga.  “Everyone here is so good at what they do,” he said. “You’d think that people would be really excited about what their peers are doing, but you don’t really see a great level of participation.”

Deb Thayer ’24 referenced her experiences in high school in reflecting on participation at Amherst. “There’s no school spirit. And I really like school spirit, I think rivalries with other schools are fun,” Thayer said.

Malushaga believes an incentive system will be successful in solving this problem. “People are not disinterested in events,” he said. Rather, “Amherst students are busy, and there is so much going on.” He hopes to “incentivize people to go to events that they would not normally go to, not just the events within their immediate circle.”

Thayer, however, while personally intrigued by the incentive system, is skeptical of its ability to increase engagement. “People here are a little proud of not being interested in sports,” she added.

Malushaga expressed that the app “will also serve as a way for people to find out about events.” He acknowledged that many events are well-advertised, but that the lack of a centralized system is a major problem. “There definitely are places where you can find out what’s happening on campus, but generally, the events are not all in one place,” he said. Malushaga views the Daily Mammoth emails as cumbersome and thinks that many students may not take the time to read it.

Muffie Mazambani ’24 said that not finding out about events far enough in advance has prevented her from attending them. “Sometimes I don’t know about events until the day of,” she relayed.

Thayer shared that she has already learned of new events since downloading the app, but also emphasized the importance of friends in influencing participation. “I like going to games, but usually when I do go to other sporting events, it’s with my friends,” she said.

Malushaga realizes the influence that students have on each other and hopes that even convincing a few students to attend new events will inspire others to follow suit.

Acknowledging the timing of the app’s release at the end of the semester,  Malushaga hopes to hit the ground running next semester. “The next item on the agenda is getting an email sent out,” he said.  His overall goal is to make SuperFan “a thing that everyone does.”