Infošuty: Covid divided students at Mlynská dolina into camps
Ján „Infošuty“ Šutý is a household name in Mlynská dolina. He has been living in the largest student dorm campus in Slovakia for thirteen years, and almost every student who lives here knows his username on social networks. That is why he cannot be omitted from our survey of the students’ life.
By: Naša univerzita Magazine Staff
How was Infošuty born?
When I began living in Mlynská dolina back in 2009, Facebook was only just starting. In 2013, I joined the group 'Mladosť - Šturak - Átriaky - Manželáky', which at the time had perhaps 1,300 members. I sometimes contributed a post about fresh snow or a change to the public transport timetables. And the people responded. In March 2016, I created the Infošuty hashtag, to give myself a brand. By then the group grew to over 10,000 members. I shared information about things that a newcomer might not know, but that I already knew after seven years of living here.
What information proved the most popular?
Changes to public transport timetables, opening hours of the canteen or the accommodation department. Mainly at times of major changes – during public holidays, school holidays, the beginning of the semester. People sent me questions. So I began actively searching for information, and if I couldn't find it, I sent requests to staff and did my own fact-checking. I gradually built up my contacts.
Do you sometimes go and get information in person?
Most things are solved through emails. I write to the appropriate departments, contact info-lines. But there are things I get through personal contacts – I know the drivers of bus lines 39 and 31. And I do visit and review restaurants. I'm not a professional food critic, but I offer my point of view – reporting whether I liked the food and anyone is welcome to go and try for themselves.
What are the most popular posts?
Mainly those where I bring some extraordinary news. Service interruptions, public transport outages, posts about people who „had one too many“ and fell asleep under a balcony somewhere. Posts featuring animals also tend to be very popular. When someone photographs wild boar venturing into Mlyny and I approve to share the pictures, it always generates a lot of response.
Where does your interest in informing others come from?
I like the weather. Weather is dynamic, it is constantly changing, and it needs to be monitored so people are kept up to date. Thirteen years ago, I began studying physics the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics, with a focus on meteorology. I combined my hobby of weather reporting with news reporting relating to the dormitories at Mlynská dolina. Life here is similar to weather – it is also constantly changing. Changes should not be feared, they should be understood and accepted.
But for the last five years, you've been studying at the Faculty of Natural Sciences.
Unfortunately, after seven years at FMPI, I failed my third attempt to obtain a bachelor’s degree. But I found out that I still could become a meteorologist if I studied at the Faculty of Natural Sciences. So I began there from scratch in geography, geoinformatics and cartography. In the standard three years I managed to obtain my bachelor's degree and I'm in my second year of Master studies, hoping that if all goes well, next summer I’ll obtain my Master’s degree.
How much time does it take to be Infošuty?
The requirements differ because it’s a news-driven job. When things go well, it’s just a moment a day, perhaps a half an hour. But if something’s happening, it can be time-consuming. There were also days when I did not stop for 16 hours. For example, in the summer. People are scattered all over Slovakia, even all over the world, and if they want to know what's happening in the dorms, they write to me. That’s when I get busy and I need to have my phone and my computer with me at all times. The second wave arrives in autumn when junior students write for information. During the year the number of queries is manageable. But at any time I respond to at least one query per day. About six thousand people live in Mlynská dolina, but the 'Mladosť - Šturak - Átriaky - Manželáky' chat group has over 46,000 members. The group does not cover only the dormitories, but also businesses and services frequented by the people from the city who also want information.
Recently, Comenius University has made you 'official' and you became a member of CU’s information team at its dorms. Has anything changed about the way you report the news?
I was approached six years into Infošuty's existence, so I already had procedures in place. I have always tried to obtain information from verified sources or to fact-check it myself, so in this regard nothing has changed for me. I'm just constantly reminding people not to write to me privately, but contact me through the social networks of the dormitories.
|B.Sc. Ján Šutý|
|grew up in Orava, studied physics at CU’s FMPI and is now completing his studies in geography, geoinformatics and cartography at CU’s FNS. For many years he has been the admin of the 'Mladosť - Šturak - Átriaky - Manželáky' facebook group and has also been contributing to the website of CU’s Dormitories since 2021.|
At how many dormitories have you lived over the years?
For many years I was loyal to the Atrium Houses, block B. I spent twelve years there, eight of those in a single room. I liked it. Triple room, for a good price. I was lucky with roommates over the years, one was in the same situation as me, he was extending his study and so we spent eight years together and only the third roommate changed. But last summer we had to move out of the Atrium Houses, and I got a room in the Couple’s Dorm. Afterwards, I did not feel like moving everything again, so I stayed there. And after all those years I said to myself that I wanted something better. But I also know the Štúr High-rise. During covid, I spent a couple of days there in an isolation room.
Which one would you recommend to those who are new to the Mlynská dolina campus?
A lot depends on their personality and finances. If one is sociable, a triple room in the Atrium Houses with shared bathrooms is the right thing. More introverted people should opt for the Štúr High-rise or the Couple’s Dorm. But there is no harm in trying out a few options. Above all, one should not be shocked. In Mlynská dolina the lack of investment is really visible and no renovations were done for many years. Even if something is being improved lately, the premises are what they are. Then again, there is no need to despair over how terrible the room is that one received, just stay informed. One can request the room to be painted, a new mattress to be provided, linens to be replaced. Defects can be reported, own curtains hung, mood lights installed, there’s a lot one can do to make the space cosier. Also, don't be afraid to ask. Those who don’t ask never learn. The same is true of other things in Mlynská dolina – a lot goes on here, one just has to show interest.
You are perhaps best placed to tell me this, due to all those years you spent here: What are the students who live in Mlyny like?
There is a lot of variability. They are a sample of the whole of Slovakia and, accounting for the Erasmus people, the world. You can find a little bit of everything. No generalisations can be made. Many people are clearly just trying to find themselves and don’t yet know who they are or what they want to do. Those have a nickname – DVD ("Do Vianoc Doma", or "Back Home By Christmas"). These DVD’s, as we call them, seem to have forgotten why they came here – all they do is go to bars and neglect their credits or exams. They leave pretty quickly. Some discover they did not make a good choice and switch majors and faculties. But most people have a drive, have determination, goals, visions.
What helps one survive in a dormitory?
I think it helps if people from similar fields, or even the same class, live together. Freshmen often choose friends from high school or their hometown as roommates, but that is not always ideal.
Has anything changed in Mlynská dolina after covid? What were the students who came back after a nearly two-year break like?
Those who were really gone for two years seem to have forgotten how to behave among people. That communication needs to be live, that questions need to be asked in person, not just online. Initially, people went out less, but I think that’s gone back to normal. There is one thing, however, that I increasingly observe among students in Mlynská dolina – it seems covid split people into camps. The divisions observable in the society at large are reflected here: the vaccinated, the unvaccinated, those who think that it was all made up. I also see a division opinions regarding the tragedies that happened in October. Some are vehemently in favour, others are against something. Students get into very heated arguments, especially online.
Do you delete hate posts?
I try to, but people just create new profiles and go on. It's like fighting windmills. Personally, I think we should look for what we have in common, for the things that connect us.
What changes would you like to see in Mlynská dolina in the future?
I wish its looks could be improved. Students arriving from some small village should really feel like living in the capital, in the most developed region of the country. Once the dormitories are renovated, and the rooms are no longer leaky or draugty, we can start thinking of some nice amenities – it would be great to have a swimming pool, a sauna, a cafe...
What, on the contrary, should not change?
The unique feeling of being in a „city within a city“. The variety of services offered. There is something for everyone here – entertainment, sports, food, shopping, but also quiet, a spiritual dimension, educational activities. If it stays that way, people will love to live here. And even years later, they will remember this place and return here with their children.