This was the post I started when I was at the airport late last week waiting for my flight to CA. But alas I am only finishing it now because there was no where in the whole city of Oakland that had free wi-fi and I was not going to pay $10/day for internet access at the hotal. So here it is:
This story about student-athlete behavior came out a few weeks ago but I was busy watching and blogging about tennis, golf and softball. I mostly thought it was amusing--ok, yes somewhat serious--but somewhat missing the point as well.
So some schools have mandated that their student athletes refrain from using Facebook or MySpace. OK sure--such rules impede naive SAs from posting incriminating photos of themselves hazing other team members a la the women's soccer team at Northwestern. But the rule misses two key points.
The first is that--hello there appears to be rampant hazing going on and just because there may be a decline in a photographic record of the incidents doesn't mean this is not a serious issue. It seems that the focus has been on hazing in fraternities and sororities but other student organizations engage in them as well--especially athletic teams. This is clearly a serious enough issue to warrant institutions regulating how their SAs use the internet. But they see it as serious from a PR perspective--not a SA welfare perspective. And this is troubling. But not surprising given that other SA indiscretions (sexual harassment, rape, theft, assault) warrant this same PR concern over aspects such as the cause of such behavior.
Oh darn--I forget what the second key point is. Sorry--it was a long weekend. I'll add an addendum is I think of it.
Oh wait--I remember now. The rule neglects any consideration of the larger issue of student awareness about the internet. When I was in college we had just started to address the issue of harassment via internet/email. Policies had to be rewritten to take into consideration the new means of enacting harassment. This was good but seemingly only half the project. Meanwhile, we seem to have neglected to engage in conversations with students about the implication of posting or making available personal information. Please please note here that I do believe that harassment is never warranted and mitigated because of the actions of the victim. But I don't think some students really understand the implications of some of the things that post on the internet such as pictures of them taking hits from the bong which I found on my student's facebook page. How about not banning SA use of facebook, blogger, etc. but teaching them--and other students as well--about responsible uses of the internet.