November 16, 2012
Social media provokes reaction from SU communityRecent events of cyber-bulling on campus have sparked outrage amongst students in the Susquehanna community.
Twitter pages, such as "SU Disasters," started out as simple criticisms on fashion of students on campus and escalated into extreme and harsh attacks on students.
"I found the whole thing to be really idiotic and the fact that people would purposefully try to hurt and offend their peers on campus makes me sick to my stomach," said sophomore Taylor Brown, sophomore English major. "I would think people would be mature enough in college so that this sort of thing wouldn't happen."
Recently, these attempts at cyber-bullying on Twitter and other sites have taken a prejudice undertone and targeted particular groups on campus. A Twitter page titled "SU_Niggas" was created, posting stereotypical and racists things about African Americans and even following African-American students on campus.
"It is a horrible thing. I just feel that whoever does it has no respect for other individuals and just want to feel good about themselves," said sophomore Charles Warner.
Many students, aware of these cyber-bullying attempts, take matters into their own hands and report them to the social media sites. School administrators praise students for their efforts in taking control of this matter and bringing the student body together even during the worst of times.
"It's disturbing the things that are happening but I'm pleased to see the way students are policing this problem and setting a tone for what we see as acceptable," said Phil Winger, dean of students. "Students are more powerful than they know."
Winger said that they investigate these incidents the best way they can, but are in most cases unable to investigate extensively due to the anonymity of many of these pages.
"It does become a challenge for us to prosecute someone when they are anonymous, but even with the challenge, we still want students to report these things," Winger said. "Speaking up not only helps us all be more aware but it creates a dialogue amongst our community for us to talk about these things."
Many students have begun to chime in on these incidents, offer advice on how to prevent these things from happening and how we can move forward.
Junior Justin Ward said, "I don't know if there really is anything we can do about it. The only thing we can try to do is get people to realize that every single person has life experiences and everything that make them the way they are, so that if you really don't get along or understand that person, either try to be friendly with them or just don't even try to acknowledge them. Don't try to make them feel bad about themselves."
Thomas Rambo, director of public safety, said that cyber-bullying has been a problem longer than people think and not just at Susquehanna. Before social media, people would use email. New sites have only given people a new avenue to conduct their hatred.
"We take it very seriously when these things happen," said Rambo. "We have conducted investigations before where students have been expelled. I'm very pleased and proud of the way that students have stood up to this ignorance."
Early this semester, students along with residence life held a rally near the Degenstein Campus Center in opposition to the swastikas found in Smith Hall.
Armenta Hinton, associate director of the center for diversity and social justice, applauded the students for coming together and empowering each other.
"It's important that [the administration and faculty] help students to take action against acts of intolerance and ignorance," Hinton said. "It's not about us; it's about uplifting and supporting the students and community."
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