Zoom University: Our Online Alma Mater

2020’s most iconic apparel for college students


Welcome to Zoom University! The newest institution inaugurated ever since a shelter-in-place ordinance was issued by local governments.

With the current state of the world being succumbed with a pandemic, it was advised by different health organizations globally, how we should contribute to the effort of flattening the curve for COVID-19 victims by staying at home. The idea enhanced community quarantine, lockdown, shelter-in-place, and so on, was thus adapted.

As a consequence, all nonessential in-person meetings have since been suspended, including face-to-face instructions. So in turn, mass majority of schools, colleges, and universities around the country have agreed to deliver class sessions through a video communications application you most likely have heard of already. Zoom.

While many of us are unimpressed with this blasé experiences we are encountering during quarantine – such as constantly facing our desktops, attending class sessions online, or simply killing time with our Nintendo Switch, essentially waiting for the day we’ll all go back to living normally, a student may have used his creative juices during this time to spark an idea contributing to the creation of his own branding.

Design junior, Nick Marotta from Carnegie Mellon University, School of Design devised the crest of Zoom University. A logo-look inspired by the benevolent third-party app used by every student and instructor right now for finishing up the semester online.

Marotta sparked up this idea with an inside joke right after their school announced that classes will transition online March 12. 

“Someone had invited me to the Facebook page Zoom Memes for Self Quaranteens,” Marotta said. “It was then that I realized that every college student in the world would now be attending the same university, and Zoom University was born.”

“I was pretty excited about the opportunity to do that for an inside joke that applied to so many people. I posted it to the meme [group] sometime around 2am, went to sleep, and woke up to a TON of notifications.” Marotta added, explaining how a simple meme group roused the idea of materializing the design into his own apparels.

The design easily grabbed the attention of customers, composed mostly of students all over the United States, with a vast number coming from California and Nebraska.

Zoom University’s crest could have been mistaken as a legitimate university at first glance, but do not get fooled by its collegiate peg.

The crest was composed of the two of the hottest must-haves in time of quarantine: toilet paper–due to subsequent shortages, and a laptop–the primary medium to connect for school requirements. The insignia was packed with a circle containing the Latin phrase, “socialis remotus”, a twist dedicated to “social distancing”, and the established year inscribed.

Marotta’s love for design stemmed from his desire in making things “feel real.”

“I became interested in design pretty organically,” he said. “Since [I am] studying design in school, I have come to see it as a way of enacting intention considerately.”

“Considerately wielding intentionality can have some serious impact on people and bigger systems. It’s nice when that positive potential can come together with humor in this way,” followed by Nick, explaining how hilarity can achieve and grasp a greater scope of audience like his Zoom University design.

As a student, Marotta also takes classes through Zoom. In fact, he just had his last day of classes conducted online recently, and for him, he personally finds Zoom classes interesting.

“[Zoom Classes] lack so many wonderful qualities of in-person classes, but there has been a lot of novelty,” Marotta said. “For instance, I have had a lot of fun messing around with virtual backgrounds. At one point, I recorded myself walking into my bedroom. When I set that video as my virtual background, it looked as though I had a twin.”

Marotta’s business is flourishing with Zoom being a trend amidst the pandemic. However, he not only has his bounties for himself, but also has proceeds donated to Meals-On-Wheels America, an organization that supports seniors and elderly, that are most susceptible to the pandemic.

“People’s lives are being turned upside-down,” Marotta said. “Senior Citizens are especially vulnerable right now, and many are struggling to get access to food without putting themselves in danger.”

“The Meals on Wheels COVID-19 Response Fund is a great way to remotely help those in need right now and we’re really happy that we’re able to contribute,” he continued.

Ann Marotta, who goes by “Nick’s Mom”, is delighted with her child’s glorious success with his business.

“We are very proud of Nick and what he has done with his Zoom University Bookstore project.” Ann said. “He started this endeavor thinking it would bring joy and a laugh to some of his classmates. He’s been making donations regularly to Meals on Wheels and has given our entire family something positive to focus on during this extremely stressful time.”

With Nick succumbing with his busy online classes, Ann has been helping him with his business. Together with her husband, they fold, pack, ship, and answer inquiries in Nick’s absence. Ultimately, Nick’s grandparents are also involved with quality checking the items.

“We feel a responsibility as a family to help cheer these students up,” Ann said. “Although it started as a joke, we’re all taking it very seriously.”

Zoom University apparels come in stickers, printed in t-shirts and sweatshirts, and recently have been materialized in caps with the crest embroidered.   

In light of the catastrophe that drastically changed our normal way of living, a little perspective would really affect how we can thrive on our current living situation.