Followers may translate to attendees for TikTok star Chris Olsen’s ULS

TikToker Chris Olsen will speak at the University Lecture Series (ULS) on Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. INSTAGRAM/@chrisolsen

For sophomore biomedical science major Zoe Gorman, it’s exciting that students will be able to hear about TikToker Chris Olsen’s experiences in person instead of through their cell phones.

“I watch his videos all the time. I’ve spoken to my friends about him coming to the event, and a lot of them are excited and saying that they will attend it with me,” Gorman said.

This semester’s ULS event with Olsen will take place on Nov. 14 at the MSC Ballroom. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the lecture starts at 8 p.m.

Related: Banned from your phones but not the stage: TikTok star Chris Olsen to speak at USF

Senior animal biology major Kira Mulcahey said she won’t attend the event because she is busy, but is curious as to why the ULS is hosting a TikToker only a few months after the app was banned on campus.

“I don’t think the fact that he is a TikTok star will be an issue for USF. If the university allowed him to be the lecturer, it must know where he is famous from,” Mulcahey said.

The social media platform TikTok was banned from USF campus networks on April 5 following an emergency regulation issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Board of Governors on March 28.

Related: USF bans TikTok, other social media platforms on campus networks

The Florida Board of Governors stated that the restriction was implemented to safeguard student data and academic research against national security threats.

Olsen is known for being open about his mental health care journey on TikTok and making cameo appearances with celebrities, especially singer Meghan Trainor. He has 12.1 million followers and 1.1 billion likes on his TikTok profile. 

The Campus Activities Board (CAB) recently reduced the number of ULS from two to one each semester so they could attract more recognizable names and increase attendance, according to CAB coordinator Hannah Sutherland.

Olsen will be the first speaker to host ULS after the modification.

Related: ULS events reduced to one per semester to improve attendance

Sophomore biomedical sciences major Rhiannon Clarke said she always tries making time for ULS events, but it becomes a challenge when she has exams on the week of the events. She said she expects Olsen’s lecture to be light-hearted and draw in a crowd. 

While this semester’s ULS might be popular because Olsen is liked by the younger generation, freshman history major Sofia Caballero said she won’t be attending the event.

“Personally, I don’t think I’ll attend this ULS because I don’t know much about the speaker. If they brought in someone I was interested in seeing, I would definitely make time for it,” Caballero said.

Clarke said that she likes CAB’s strategy to bring more prominent names because she believes in “quality over quantity.” The plan will have a bigger effect on students and their attendance as the crowd tends to be bigger when there is a more well-known person as the speaker, according to Clarke. 

With the ULS event approaching, Gorman said she is excited to see how Olsen will discuss mental health – the chosen theme for this lecture.

“I know he’s going to be talking about mental health. Hopefully he talks about keeping a strong mental health in college when you’re struggling with your exams and studying a whole bunch, especially now that we just had midterms,” Gorman said.