Students around the country will tell you that if you want to find out the skinny on the new English teacher, or the soup of the day in the cafeteria, or about the new law professors horrific toupee, just log on and chances are all of your questions will be answered. In fact, while you are there you may very well want to make a comment about it yourself. The preponderance of opinions on just about anything on Twitter, Facebook and other less popular social media networks is getting a little out of hand, that is if you ask officials at Western Kentucky State University that is. And these officials are doing something about it; fighting back if you will and in doing so charges of censorship and limiting the exchange of free speech are being leveled at the highest authorities at this Kentucky state university.
The President of WKU, Gary Ransdell, has used Facebook and Twitter to lecture students on the things that they post on these mediums, especially when it comes to not so flattering posts about the college. Kids interviewed on campus say that they are now being very cautious about what they write because they are afraid of running afoul of school administrators. In fact, WKU officials actually got Twitter to close one very sarcastic threat about WKU, a move that has many observers scratching their heads over why the school would ever want to get that deep into a social media battle over free speech, no matter the subject. WKU is actually considering a new handbook for students, which will inform them on what school officials consider appropriate behavior on these media outlets. A parody run in the school newspaper says that “Campus police changing their name to WKU Twitter Police.”
For their part school officials say that they are simply trying to weed out abuses of the system and those that are posting false allegations using phony accounts and names. And they also remind students that what they post will follow them for the rest of their lives and that prospective employers will also know if they have engaged in unsubstantiated bashing on social media outlets, which will effect their prospects for getting a job.
Sounds like WKU had better think about making sure that their students like the place rather than trying to limit what is said about it by its students. The President telling the kids to watch what they say because it will follow them for the rest of their lives sounds like the old line of BS that my father used to tell me about my “permanent record” that will dog me forever also. I think the Admin at WKU should think about ways to grow a thicker skin.
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