Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Checking on the fortunes of university hashtags always fills me with dismay. Yesterday, for instance, a tweeting undergrad advised prospective students to prepare for liver damage. His tweet coincided with a day-long open house for high-schoolers. Brilliant. This undergrad has company everywhere — tweeters who proclaim that they get weird, that they go hard, that their schools outdo all others in getting and staying drunk, hashtag, hashtag, hashtag. Granted, such tweeters are a fraction of a fraction of any student body (or as William Strunk Jr. would have preferred, the studentry). Yet such tweeters contribute mightily to shaping — or disfiguring — a school’s public face. They give that face a bulbous rosy nose.

O digital naïfs, when you take to the airwaves in these ways, you’re cheapening the value of your fellow students’ degrees, along with the value of your own degrees, should you attain them. That’s #stupid.

Related posts
Homeric blindness in “colledge” : Digital naïfs : Naïf watch : Naïf watch : Naïfs and Big Bird

[“Digital naïf”: my coinage. As I wrote in 2010, “so-called digital natives are often in the dark, or at least in dimly-lit rooms, when it comes to digital technology. Many so-called digital natives are in truth digital naïfs.”]

comments: 5

Matthew Schmeer said...

Here in Kansas, them's is firing words for faculty.

Michael Leddy said...

Which words?

This post is meant as a general observation on digital naïveté. I think that students everywhere need to be smarter about what they say online. Sometimes faculty, too.

Matthew Schmeer said...

In Kansas, professors can be fired over the content of their social media post. Yes, you read that right. This was a big controversy last year when the Kansas Board of Regents added a new social media policy giving college administrators the right to remove even tenured professors from their positions over the content of an employee's social media post. Here's the relevent snippet from the Board Policy, which you can read here: http://www.kansasregents.org/policy_chapter_ii_f_use_of_social_media

-- 3. The United States Supreme Court has held that public employers generally have authority to discipline their employees for speech in a number of circumstances, including but not limited to speech that:

i. is directed to inciting or producing imminent violence or other breach of the peace and is likely to incite or produce such action;

ii. when made pursuant to (i.e. in furtherance of) the employee’s official duties, is contrary to the best interests of the employer;

iii. discloses without lawful authority any confidential student information, protected health care information, personnel records, personal financial information, or confidential research data; or

iv. subject to the balancing analysis required by the following paragraph, impairs discipline by superiors or harmony among co-workers, has a detrimental impact on close working relationships for which personal loyalty and confidence are necessary, impedes the performance of the speaker’s official duties, interferes with the regular operation of the employer, or otherwise adversely affects the employer's ability to efficiently provide services.


Sections 3ii. and 3iv. are extremely problematic. Under this hamfisted policy, we are essentially being told that "academic freedom" means we give up our First Amendment rights as public employees. It's all hogwash and no one who teaches at a KBOR institution in Kansas is happy with it. And yes, it has made many faculty members censor themselves for fear of being fired because something they post could be construed as violating sections 3ii. and 3iv.

If I posted something on Twitter talking trash about students -- even in general -- I could get fired because of section 3ii. Even employing a hashtag like #stupid when talking about students at my institution could draw scrutiny.

Chilling effect, indeed.

Michael Leddy said...

That’s frightening and chilling indeed. 3ii. and 3iv. might cover any criticism — of the treatment of adjunct faculty, of grade inflation, of anything.

Notice that I’m using the hashtag for comic purposes. And it applies to no particular student but to what students at many schools do — use social media in ways that degrade their school’s reputation.

Slywy said...

Now all I can think of is the line at Penny's Halloween party that Sheldon hears, "How wasted am I?"