New student-initiated app hopes to connect people

Ian Malone

maloneia@grinnell.edu

A new scarlet icon may soon be on the screens of all Grinnellian smartphones. Taking its name from the iconic covered hallways that connect the College’s residence halls, Loggia, a smartphone app, was launched a few weeks ago, but is already starting to make a name for itself. The app serves as an online event board where users can post events they are hosting and RSVP to events posted by others.

Developers Yazan Kittaneh, Ruth Wu and Alex French (all ‘17) initially had the idea for Loggia late last year after becoming dissatisfied with how news of parties and other events were being spread throughout campus.

From left: Ruth Wu, Yazan Kittaneh and Alex French (all ‘17) show their smartphones while posing in the North Campus loggia. Photo by Rae Kuhlman

From left: Ruth Wu, Yazan Kittaneh and Alex French (all ‘17) show their smartphones while posing in the North Campus loggia.
Photo by Rae Kuhlman

“A problem I saw last year was that I was seeing the same people at the same events, and when I was asking people about events, they didn’t know about [them],” Kittaneh said. “Loggia is a way to make the campus a little more inclusive, friendly and open to the people.”

The developers of Loggia see their app as a way for students to step out of their usual social groups and attend events of which they otherwise would not have heard.

The developers created Loggia independently, rather than through Grinnell AppDev, the student organization that creates apps affiliated with the College. Despite all three being members, they made this decision for several pragmatic reasons.

“I see value [for Loggia] elsewhere… and that’s my ultimate goal, to have it be an essential tool for every other college. Having it locked into AppDev limits us,” Kittaneh said. Conflict could also arise if the app were built through AppDev.

“It would come under a lot of scrutiny, and certain events wouldn’t be able to be put on the app,” Wu said.

The developers also believe it instills a strong sense of community to have the app entirely student-initiated.
“It kind of creates an intimate feel when you know it’s not sponsored by the school. It’s by students, for students,” Wu said.

Like many mobile apps, Loggia has significant room for improvement. “We’re still planning on adding a lot more features that were discussed at the very beginning,” French said.

Users can post events that they are hosting  on campus and RSVP to those they plan to attend.

Users can post events that they are hosting on campus and RSVP to those they plan to attend.

Still, Loggia has come a long way from its original conception. According to Wu, Loggia’s design went through three different stages before the developers found the one they felt worked. The creators of Loggia also intend to listen to user feedback and shape their product’s progress based on what their community wants.

“None of us know what [Loggia] is going to be like next year. It could be completely changed, or morph into [a multitude] of different things,” Kittaneh said.

The app currently has one event, which was posted on Aug. 29. Titled “Food in Des Moines”, the host posted the description “we’re going for food. contact me if you can find me!”

Only time will tell how the Grinnell student body reacts to Loggia and whether it evolves into an essential part of campus life.

The developers admit that it is still in its infancy but has the potential to be something truly unique, with the possibility of expanding to other college campuses. The app is currently free to download for Android devices on the Google Play store. An iOS version has been submitted to Apple for approval and should be available soon.