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How does social media use affect IWU students?

Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Yik Yak, Tinder, Tumblr and Instagram are widely used throughout campus. While there are benefits to using social media, the tendency for students to post questionable content can cause more harm than good.

These media offer some great benefits, such as the ability to stay in contact with our loved ones and receive news from around the world.

However, with the benefits there are downsides. Advancements in internet technology have given rise to major problems such as cyberbullying, online predators and the display of inappropriate behavior.

Many students are unclear on the university’s role in their social media, if the university can see and regulate it, and if they have the ability to take down anything they deem as unfit.

“If it violates a university policy, then the university can address an issue with the student,” Andrew Parker, vice president of student development, said. “The outcome of that pursuit could involve a simple conversation, or it could involve the student conduct process.”

In regards to the Internet and social media, the IWU handbook states:

“The internet has provided many advances and opportunities for students to connect in cyber-communities, not only on the IWU campus but also nationwide and globally. Students must be careful that the material that is posted on their accounts falls within University expectations. In addition, students need to be aware that the material on their site is open to public viewing … IWU monitors and filters all internet activity [on any computer hardware owned by IWU] and provides regular reports of internet use to the office of the Vice President for Student Development.”

With this in mind, while the university may not be hunting for social media posts that violate the handbook rules, they are capable of working with social media sites directly to remove inappropriate content.

IWU prefers to take a hands-off approach to social media, only getting involved when necessary.“The university attempts to use sound judgment in deciding which situations to address,” Parker says.

While social media keeps people connected, they can also create problems. For example, negative posts are frequently posted to Yik Yak regarding various topics including chapel and Baldwin. The tendency is to forget that even though posts written on social media are not directly spoken to the person, they still hold weight and have consequences.

“The negative impacts of social media are not unique to IWU’s campus. With so many different ways of sharing and viewing content, social media has a way of consuming us. It makes it harder for us to live in the moment,” Digital Media Manager Jay Filson said.

Social media is also affecting incoming students in a different way. IWU does not directly seek out incoming students’ social media accounts but do actively use social media as a way to connect and inform incoming students.

“We aim to meet students where they’re at. If they prefer to communicate with a counselor via a social media channel, we attempt to be present, reachable and interact with them in that medium,” Adam Farmer, Director of Admissions says. “Outside of this experience, we encounter a student’s social media profile rarely.”

IWU would like students to use social media with caution and remember that what people say can and does have an impact on others.

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IWU Alumni write on their wrestles with faith in a new compilation book

Recent Indiana Wesleyan University graduates Lauren Sawyer (alumna ‘12) and Steven Porter (alumnus ‘12) are soon to be published in a new book. Entitled “Kissing in the Chapel, Praying in the Frat House: Wrestling with Faith in College,” the book is a compilation of essays written by recent college graduates about their personal experiences.

“The goal is to facilitate dialogue. This is not the sort of book you should look to if you want a really sound biblical exegesis on any topic,” Porter said.” This is people telling their stories and there are parts of my story and I think parts of Lauren’s story too, that we’re not completely proud of.”

The book attempts to tackle highly-debated topics, such as sexuality, alcohol and tobacco use, sexual abuse and most importantly faith, through the use of personal stories. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter aim to help readers explore these topics.

Both Sawyer and Porter graduated in 2012. Sawyer majored in journalism and writing while Porter studied media communications and participated in the Mary C. Dodd Honors program. They submitted their pieces early in the spring of 2013, found out their pieces had been chosen early September, and have been editing since then.

“I had pieces written, but I didn’t decide to submit until the day that submissions were due,” Sawyer said.

Her piece focuses on three parties she attended her last week at IWU.

“Up until some point in college, my idea of the world was that everything was black and white and you could categorize everything as good or bad and anything that was kind of ambiguous made me really uncomfortable,” Sawyer said.

Her stories focus on gray areas like parties, drinking alcohol and having sex, and her difficulty coming to terms with those at IWU.

“It’s really hard to talk about those things at IWU because the rules are really clear. There’s a lot of hiding, there’s a lot of not talking about these things for fear of getting judged or getting in trouble with the school,” Sawyer said.

Looking back on her piece, she has realized that she’s gained a new perspective and understanding of herself and what she was dealing with since being away from school. She’s okay with this though; she feels that it makes the piece authentic to her experience and more relatable for students.

Both Sawyer and Porter said they felt isolated and disillusioned during their time at IWU, and hope that their stories can show students that other people are going through what they went through.

“It felt like because what I was saying differed slightly from what others were saying or what was being said from the pulpit in chapel that my voice wasn’t particularly welcome,” Porter said. “The way that I live out my faith doesn’t look like the way a lot of people on campus think it should look. My faith journey throughout school was largely a process of becoming okay with that.”

Sawyer was very excited to attend IWU because she went to a public high school. She thought everyone would “like the same things” and “have the same interests.”

“That didn’t happen,” she said. “I got the sense that everyone around me was a better Christian than I was. I felt like somehow I wasn’t as good as my roommates or people across the hall. That kind of started this path of not knowing what it meant for me to be a Christian.”

She said her home church and blogs she read also fostered these spiritual problems, but thankfully, she is on the other side of them.

“It was important for me to go through that because it forced me to ask the questions that got me to where I am now. I find so much life in my faith now and I love my church, which I didn’t ever think would happen, and I feel confident in who I am and who I am to God,” Sawyer said. “All of these things I didn’t feel at IWU and I think it did take that disillusionment to get me to this place.”

Both Sawyer and Porter appreciated their time at IWU, but advocate for more open discussion of these topics.

“I think there’s a lot of benefit in listening,” Porter said. “I think these motifs are not unique to IWU students, I think they are prevalent among millennials and people who are in this demographic and making this transition from adolescence to adulthood.”

Now working at the Journal and Courier in Lafayette, Indiana, Porter enjoyed the editing process because it allowed him to focus on one topic for a longer period of time than a normal news story. He hopes to “find more opportunities like this,” but he recognizes that those are “long-term goals.” He would love to write another essay for a compilation book or magazine.

Porter aims to explore his vocation more, but is limited by job opportunities.

“It’s hard to pursue some of those big, crazy ideas, those big news stories or those big magazine articles that you’d love to pitch when you feel like you need to pay your bills,” Porter said.

Sawyer went to the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, earning an M.A. in Theology and Culture. She now works as an assistant instructor there, but hopes to continue writing, especially about her experience, confusion, and the questions she faced in college.

“I think those are the most important things that I can be writing about. It feels really good to know that I am actually going to get an audience for that,” Sawyer said. “It’s important for me in my career as a writer, but also feels like I’m going to be able to help people with what I wrote.”


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Sojourn Comic 11 - Tolerance - WEB

Comic written and illustrated by Danae Keener (sr)

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IWU raising money for Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone

With countless individuals sick and dying, the severity of the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone has caused The Wesleyan Church to take action.

General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church and founder of the Christian humanitarian program World Hope, Dr. JoAnne Lyon, has reached out to Indiana Wesleyan University in order to raise funds for a project named “IWU Cares.”

The project’s goal is to raise $30,000—enough money to purchase an ambulance for Kamakwie Hospital in Sierra Leone.

Kamakwie Wesleyan Hospital is one of the few hospitals in Sierra Leone the government has put in charge of the Ebola situation. It only has two ambulances to transport the sick and remove the deceased Ebola victims all across Sierra Leone, both of which are old and need replacing, according to Dean of the Chapel Dr. Jim Lo.

The situation has become so intense that the hospital has began to ask workers to use their own private vehicle to transport victims of Ebola.

Lo believes IWU needs to be a part of this project because Christians have a responsibility for other believers who are suffering.

“If we say that we have around 3,000 people that are a part of the residential community and each person gives just ten dollars, we can meet this need very, very quickly,” Lo said.

Lo has reached out to the Director of Alumni Rick Carder to consider asking alumni to give to this fundraiser as well.

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Dr. Jim Lo is encouraging people to donate money to buy this ambulance to help those stricken with Ebola in Sierra Leone.

“We are talking about people helping people,” Carder said in an email interview with The Sojourn. “Through the community here at IWU, we believe that each one of us can do something and by combining those gifts we can accomplish so much.”

Lo recognizes not everyone is able to give large amounts of money for causes such as this, but encourages everyone to give by prayer.

“We [IWU] talk a lot about being world changers, and I recognize that not everyone can get out into the world to be the world changers that way, but one of the ways that we can bless other people in the world that are in need is by giving,” Lo said.

An offering for this project will be taken during chapel once a week starting Friday, Nov. 14 until the end of the semester. Student leaders will also be walking through the dorms to raise additional funds.

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