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.