During the summer, as I was scrolling through Facebook, something started popping up. It was a new website called Hidden UMD. Curious, I clicked on the link and was shocked yet impressed to see a website full of gorgeous photos. But these aren’t just any random photos. These are photos taken by students of the University of Maryland. Yes ma’am, these photos are of the University of Maryland, and it’s amazing how you can be surrounded by such beauty everyday and never realize it.
That’s why a lot of students believe Hidden UMD has become such a huge success. Sophomore, broadcast journalism major, Emily Schweich says, “Everyone’s seen Instagrammed pictures of the sunset over McKeldin or the mall on a beautiful day, but Hidden UMD highlights some of the less popular spots on campus that are just as special and unique.”
Since the summer, Hidden UMD has gained over 800 Facebook Likes and continues to rely heavily on social media to promote itself. Kayla Russo, a junior mechanical engineering major, said that she was invited to like the Hidden UMD Facebook page and that’s how she came to hear about the website. Likewise, Olasubomi Adesoye, a junior accounting and management major, said that he had heard about Hidden UMD through Twitter.
So the million dollar question now is how did Hidden UMD become so popular?
According to freshman journalism major, Rebecca Rainey, it’s because Hidden UMD is one-of-a-kind, as cliché as that sounds. “I truly think that the fact that students can submit their stories and pictures makes it so naturally unique and almost an underground yearbook,” she said. “Students can document their own individual memories as they saw them, which makes it a beautifully raw first-hand experience of the campus.”
Adesoye agrees. “It’s a way to share the campus best kept secrets, a way to display the UMD student atmosphere, but the best part about it is that it’s all shown in photography form. […] Hidden UMD allows the artist in each one of us to arise.”
Hidden UMD declined to comment explaining that, “Due to our anonymity, we have to be careful of our public relations. So we’ve decided to focus on self-promotion for a while.” However, the authors’ anonymity does add to the mystical nature of Hidden UMD. Anyone can submit a piece of work to Hidden UMD, simply by shooting an email to site with his or her photo and contact information.
“I think that the blog wouldn’t be as extraordinary if they weren’t anonymous,” Rainey said. “Because then it wouldn’t be an open forum in which students can release and share their experiences.”
In the few months since its inception, Hidden UMD has had more than a couple contributors, Olasubomi Adesoye being one of them. As a photographer, Adesoye said that Hidden UMD has allowed students a platform to show their pride and their love for their school. “You are giving the senior who has been here for 4 years an opportunity to see the McKeldin Mall in a totally different aspect. A freshman unaware of the garden next to the chapel now open to a whole new place of serenity. […] I contribute so people can be aware of all of the beauty around them.”
Just like Rainey, Adesoye too believes that Hidden UMD’s anonymity makes the website all that more special. “No one person is standing out as this website is a display of my work, you immediately get a sense of a community. A community of UMD photographers, students, and sometimes even faculty and staff who maybe just fell in love with the campus as well and want to covey that feeling to the world.”
But is Hidden UMD here to stay? Or is it just a viral website that will soon die in the years to come?
Neither Rainey nor Adesoye believes so. “As long as there are students who are proud of their campus and would love to share it with the world then I think Hidden UMD is here to stay,” Adesoye said.
Rainey agreed, adding that, “I think that as long as the students want to keep it running and keep submitting it could be in it for the long run. I certainly hope that as the creators graduate they pass down the website to others.”
Only time will tell if Hidden UMD is here to stay but right now, it’s sure doing a darn good job at making every student’s day a bit more brighter.