Questions of Conduct: The Popularity of Social Networking Web Sites Is Shedding Light on the Increasing Complexities of Policing Student Behavior on Campus While Respecting Their Rights to Privacy and Free Speech

By Lindenberger, Michael | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, November 30, 2006 | Go to article overview

Questions of Conduct: The Popularity of Social Networking Web Sites Is Shedding Light on the Increasing Complexities of Policing Student Behavior on Campus While Respecting Their Rights to Privacy and Free Speech


Lindenberger, Michael, Diverse Issues in Higher Education


When Jason Johnson, a student at the University of the Cumberlands in the eastern Kentucky hills, posted comments about his new boyfriend on his Myspace.com Web page, he unintentionally sparked a controversy that quickly embroiled the college, the president of the state senate and Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

Along the way, the dispute has shed light on the complications of policing student behavior on campus while respecting their rights to privacy and free speech. Those complications have only been compounded by the students' nearly ubiquitous use of Internet social networks.

The Baptist-affiliated college, whose student handbook prohibits homosexual relationships, expelled Johnson, a 20-year-old theater arts major. Gay-rights organizations and some lawmakers responded by demanding that Gov. Fletcher veto $11 million in state funds for a new pharmacy program at the college.

Others, including the president of the state senate, defended the school's right to set its own rules for student behavior, pointing out that Johnson knew the rules before he enrolled.

Fletcher left the funding intact, but called on the state attorney general to seek a legal opinion on whether the Kentucky constitution permits tax funds to be used for programs at private schools.

Many legal experts say private colleges have the right to exclude students who fail to abide by the college's moral codes. But others say the Johnson drama underscores the changing landscape of student discipline, in which sites like Myspace and Facebook.com are playing an ever-increasing role.

The sites, which count their student users in the millions, are free and enable students and others to easily keep track of their friends--and their friends' friends--through an interlocking system of personal Web pages.

Students can also, however, use the sites to post embarrassing, objectionable or even incriminating photos and other content. It's a trend that is presenting new challenges for universities, education experts say.

Dr. Ruth Davison, interim director of the department of housing and residence life at the University of West Florida, says that when such photos are presented to university officials, it often means the university has to take action.

"Students have a right to privacy, no matter who they are and whether they go to a public or a private school," says Davison, a former student affairs consultant. "But what this young man was doing was not private. Myspace and Facebook are raising critical issues in how we deal with student behavior."

In other words, she says, had Johnson simply been telling his friends he was gay, the school may never have been moved to act. However, putting it on the Internet for the world to see publicized it in a way that may have forced the university's hand.

Davison says that, at most schools, administrators aren't looking to police students' moral choices or their relationships. Far more often, they are concerned about their health and safety. But in those areas, too, Myspace and Facebook are quickly altering the environment for student affairs professionals.

"I can't speak for administrators everywhere, but from my experience they don't want to know every detail of the private lives of their students," Davison says. "But sometimes the sites contain evidence that raise critical issues of health and even life and death."

For example, she says, it's one thing if an administrator hears reports that there may be beer in a particular dorm room, but it's a far more serious matter if the same dorm room appears in an Internet photo with a fridge full of booze.

The impact of the Internet goes well beyond such cases, Davison and other experts say. Students don't realize that the photos and prank-filled videos they post to the Web will stay there long after their freshman silly season is over.

"We're trying to help them understand that posting a photo on the Web can have long-term consequences," says Dan Anderson, director of university relations at Elon University in North Carolina. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Questions of Conduct: The Popularity of Social Networking Web Sites Is Shedding Light on the Increasing Complexities of Policing Student Behavior on Campus While Respecting Their Rights to Privacy and Free Speech
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.