UIowa Meme Page creators graduate, retire Instagram page

The popular UIowa Meme Page on Instagram is expecting some changes as its creators get ready to graduate.


Cody Blissett

Photo illustration

Cara Dulin, DITV Reporter

No respectable university is complete without a meme page where students find humor in fumbled footballs, dreary weather, and university policies.

The UIowa Meme Page’s Instagram account has gained almost 15,000 followers over five years, but now it’s time for its creators to graduate.

Only current fifth-year students will remember the UIowa Meme Page’s humble beginnings; however, it didn’t start as a page at all. Instead, it was a message chain between two friends.

Seniors Teagan Roeder and Liam Curoe met their freshman year through a class group chat.

Pretty soon, the chat petered out, but Roeder and Curoe kept sending each other memes.

Roeder, along with a few other students, decided to turn their inside joke into a page on Facebook for more people to enjoy. It wasn’t until later that the account became the Instagram sensation that UI students know and love.

The page’s popularity on Instagram is largely due to the page’s third admin, senior Freya Buhr. Buhr met Curoe at the first-year orientation event, On Iowa! There, Curoe stood out to her in typical meme page creator fashion: by making a joke.

Buhr and Curoe quickly became friends, and by the spring semester of 2019, Buhr was a creator of the page. She had the idea to make the transition to Instagram — a much better platform for reaching the student demographic.

“Why’d we start on the boomer app?” Buhr asked, laughing.

Once the account moved to Instagram, it saw more engagement. Students even sent in their own memes. One such student was Talia Hill, the self-described baby of the group.

“You know, I’m a meme connoisseur,” Hill said. “I would make memes and send them in all the time — not even for credit or anything. I just liked the page.”

Hill’s work was consistent and good enough that it earned her an invite to be one of the account’s admins. Together, the four students formed an eclectic group somewhat reminiscent of the Breakfast Club. They have different majors, contrasting personalities, and diverse meme styles — something they say works to the page’s advantage.

Each of them brings their specific type of humor to the account, which helps them appeal to the broad audience they’ve gained.

The meme page capitalized on the UI students’ move in chaos when they returned to campus in fall 2020 after courses went online because of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020, Roeder said.

From there, the page’s following only grew.

“I think the first time that I realized that we as a meme page were getting traction was when we started getting numbers,” Buhr said. “Like, I was seeing commas in our accounts, [and] I remember we were excited over 5k, and then it was 10k.”

Now, the account’s follower count equals nearly half of the UI’s student population.

Even with the account’s massive following and support, the group members said they still didn’t feel any incentive to reveal who they were.

Their reasons vary: They weren’t looking for clout, or they didn’t want to be asked to promote things, but more than anything, they wanted to retain their anonymity so they could stick up for the students by picking on faculty and administration without getting in trouble.

The group acknowledges that not all of its followers will share the same political views, and they want to appeal to the largest audience they can. They also try to be sensitive about what on-campus stories they post about, Roeder said.

A student approached the team about a reported sexual assault at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, known as FIJI, in 2020 before the story officially broke. The page declined to cover it out of fear that if the student body found out about the allegations from a meme page, they wouldn’t take the case seriously.

“A meme page is not the place for that story to break. If you want to lend credibility to an actual important thing like that, we can pick it up afterward,” Curoe said. “The UIowa Meme Page is not the place to hear about that for the first time.”

Even though the page is selective about what and when they post, they still value community feedback. They get most of their information about what’s happening around town and campus from their direct messages.

All four members of the group will graduate this spring or in the fall, so some of them are transitioning away from posting frequently. Although a few of them plan to keep making content for big news events and Hawkeye sports, Curoe plans to move on completely.

“I’m turning off the lights and leaving and locking the door behind me,” he said.

The meme page will be a closed chapter in his life. This is in large part to his tendency to post memes on bar life or roasting the majors, something that will be hard to do if he’s no longer living in Iowa City.

Hill, who is graduating this spring, lives to post football memes, which she still plans to do from a non-student perspective.

The page’s gradual retirement will come as a bummer to many students, but the creators stand by their decision. They would rather phase the page out than watch its content decline in quality or sell it to someone else.

They have tried to pass it on, but with no luck.

“We’ve come to the conclusion that we very well may be the only funny people on campus,” Curoe joked. “Or the only ones with a Photoshop subscription or something.”

The group prefers to keep their meme style around the late-2010s era, a time more reminiscent of the original connotation of the word “meme.”

Even as it all comes to a bittersweet end, the creators have no regrets.

“If I were to do this again, I’d do it all over,” Roeder said. “The UIowa Meme Page became a big part of my time here on campus, and I like to think that we’ve helped people get through college in a way.”