At almost 5,000 followers, the Twitter account @SFAQuestions is easily one of the most popular accounts for students on campus to follow. From advice for incoming freshmen to the account people mention to sell textbooks, “WYD tonight SFA?” has been there for students since the summer of 2016 and has remained mostly anonymous until now.
Yajaira Romero, senior advertising and public relations major from Houston, created the account for questions from incoming freshmen. While taking 18 hours a semester, having an internship and a job, Romero said she spends about six hours a day on Twitter managing the account.
“In high school, I loved helping people. There was actually an account that was for freshman questions. I was a freshman. [The user] decided to reveal herself, and she never used the account again,” Romero said. “I thought, well what’s going to happen to the next freshman class? I feel that every freshman class needs someone to look up to because ultimately high school does not prepare you for college."
The account began as just that—questions for incoming freshmen. After a year, Romero revealed her identity to the account, but still, the majority of her followers seemed to not know who she was. Every day, Romero can refresh her notifications every minute and have 30 notifications.
As her page grew in followers, she realized that not all of her audience were freshmen. She decided as an advertising major, to promote small businesses.
“A lot of people don’t take the time to explore Nac. They don’t know what restaurants there are out there, what bars there are, what things there are to do. So I started to promote fraternity parties because they needed a place to put all their flyers. I figured if there was just one place that everybody could go to so they could see what was going on throughout the week and be updated, that’s where I wanted to be,” Romero said.
Small businesses in Nacogdoches often send direct messages to the account for their daily specials to be retweeted—from happy hour to events.
While the account is a positive thing for Romero to focus on, students often sent direct messages to the page with wrong intentions.
“It [the account] is not to put people down. It’s not what I am. It’s to lift people up and other small business and to get the word out there,” she said. “I never want it to be negative. That’s not who I am. Like the girl who tweeted ‘Don’t go to college if you can’t afford it,’ I got tagged in it. I didn’t want to have a say in it, but she offended a lot of people with that tweet.”
Just a year ago, a student was being accused by multiple women of stalker tendencies. The situation began with many tweets from many women, and SFAQuestions was one of the people to retweet and speak on this issue.
“I retweeted it because I thought, ‘okay, if I’m a girl and I want to be safe, I want other girls to be safe.’ Because we don’t even pump gas at night as a girl. Girls just don’t feel safe on campus,” she said.
Later, the University Police Department addressed the stalker rumors and said the student was not an issue. This was a hit to the account’s credibility.
“I was like okay, I got this information from these girls that said are saying that they got their information from the CAs. After that, I never put out information without checking first. This got way bigger than I thought. I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal, but it ended up being a really big deal. I need to be careful,” Romero said.
After being involved in retweeting information about the alleged stalker, Romero reached out to the student being accused, to apologize personally.
Another incident she recalls is a recent one. Romero said she saw a couple of party goers at a Theta Chi party leave a friend black-out drunk in a car while it was cold outside.
“The tweet specifically was, ‘Make sure that you leave with your friends, make sure they’re safe. If that’s not the case, then you need new friends.’ Anything can happen. I don’t want anyone to get into an accident. Just because I said Theta Chi, their adviser said, ‘Make sure you always say that the tweet was not about Theta Chi, that it’s about party-goers. I said okay,” Romero said. “It gets twisted.”
One of her favorite things about running this account is Motivation Monday. Each Monday, she tweets something motivational to help students start their week off right.
Romero said she will be graduating this August.
“I was going to leave the account, and let that be my legacy. But people said, ‘You can’t leave it,’ so I figured I need to find someone who has the same vision as me,” she said.
Romero is currently in the process of interviewing people to take the account. During the interviews, she makes sure to tell the applicants that it’s important to be unbiased.
After graduation, Romero hopes to live in Florida or Houston.
“It was never important to me that people knew who I was. It was never about being popular. I just wanted to help people. I hope I accomplished that. It’s not about me. It’s about the help that I’m providing to people,” Romero said.
Dr. Shirley Luna, executive director of University Marketing Communications at SFA, explained the relationship between the account and the university.
“We have not had any issues with the @ SFAQuestions account, and for that reason have not sought to have it shut down. The use of the University’s name and licensed trademarks can cause confusion, and viewers may mistake the content posted as official communication from the University. If that were to become a problem, the University would begin the process to have the account removed. Students should not take for granted anything they read on unofficial social media accounts, which are very often the source of ‘fake news.’ I encourage students to follow the official SFA social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.”
One of the people who say they have benefited from this account is Ashley Atkins, junior sports business major from Sugar Land. She has followed the account since her freshman year of college.
“I think this account is incredibly helpful to students. If you simply tag the account, they’ll retweet your tweet. I’ve sold textbooks and gotten info about parties and even safety tips or news from this account,” Atkins said.
Atkins said she has not seen any incorrect information on this Twitter account.
“The only way this could be harmful to students is if they don’t fact check and believe everything on Twitter, but that goes beyond this account,” she said.
“This account is usually a hub that students check when they hear of something happening in Nac or on campus. For example, the videos of the [alleged] police brutality at Verge apartment complex I saw on this account. The comment section was practically a support group for the women of these videos.
“Information is generally posted to SFA questions before the University even does. This account always has the latest updates on parties and happenings around SFA and what the general public is doing on weekends, too.”