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Publicizing Juicy Campus

There’s not much to mention in the way of more Juicy Campus news, except for the Record article that came out today on it (and will be posted online later this week).

However, I wonder about the wisdom of publicizing it at all. In regards to the Record article (which probably caused the Dean to jump out ahead), there is no question that the item was newsworthy. However, I raise the question on whether or not the Record could have waited until the Juicy Campus event was more finalized. Why publish now and potentially exacerbate the problem? Is there something to be said for college and campus citizenship?

The Dean’s e-mail is a different question, but I wonder about an unintended effect it might have. Now that Dean Merrill has publicly (and legitimately) condemned the site, does posting on Juicy Campus now become a way of getting at the administration? Does it now become an act of defiance for other administrative positions, as opposed to defying the will of the general student body? I doubt anyone is surprised by the administration’s position, but I wonder if the Dean’s words will embolden some students more then they will deter others and provide resources to those who’ve been targeted.

As a side note, the Record and Dean’s office have been extremely helpful throughout this election season and my work in Voter Registration/Absentee Balloting, and I am NOT trying to condemn their actions. The Record has an obligation to report the news (thank goodness the administration isn’t acting like the folks at Quinnipiac), and the Dean’s office certainly has an interest in this site and its harmful effect on the student body (especially in regards to confidential information, like the Honor Committee and Sexual Orientation). I do think, however, that discussion is worthwhile.


Juicy Eph

Ever been to the Williams College section of Juicy Campus? Me either. Background:

In the annals of online discourse, “did you hear about [student]’s nose job?” isn’t among the best of what the Internet has to offer. It also isn’t the worst. An anonymous Web site that’s caught the attention — and provoked the ire — of students across the country has already unleashed comments like that one, and much worse, in carefree, unregulated and sometimes vicious discussion threads that have raised privacy concerns and condemnations on several campuses.

On, anyone can post to campus-specific boards with the guarantee that their identities will be protected and their messages left uncensored.

Hard to believe that this will raise the level of campus discussion. A Williams student wrote me:

It would be much appreciated if you could post something on EphBlog that can get some helpful alums riled up to help have this site pulled down. The state of New Jersey is already filing litigation under the premise of consumer fraud. Get that nosy detective work up and running!

I didn’t check more than a couple of the posts. It seems like some students have said not very nice things about other students. But, others have seemingly replaced (how?) some of the negative material with random text. Big picture: Students sometimes said nasty things about each other 25 years ago. They sometimes say nasty things about each other today. It would be nice if that happened less often. Ideas for accomplishing that are welcome.

Is there anything to be done about Juicy Campus? Probably not. (Eph legal opinions?) Consider the related controversy over college confessional sites (e.g., here).

At Amherst, where that was a problem earlier this semester, the college’s attorneys are planning to contact the Massachusetts attorney general to discuss possible legal avenues in light of New Jersey’s actions against JuicyCampus, said Ben Lieber, the dean of students. He said the college was interested in whether the attorney general would “take action either in conjunction … or independent” of the New Jersey investigation, under that state’s Consumer Fraud Act.

Lieber has also written to the site’s founder and to students, asking them to ignore the site, to no discernible effect. “We’re a population of about 1,600 students,” he said. “Virtually all our students live on campus. Of the students who live on campus, virtually all of them eat in the same dining hall three times a day if they don’t skip breakfast…. People see each other all the time, people are very, very visible to each other. It’s bad enough to have this kind of thing happen at a big university where the degree of anonymity that people have is much greater, but to have it in a place where there’s less anonymity is I think even more problematic.”

True. And if Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley ’75 feels like getting her name in the paper, she might make some noise on the topic. But the First Amendment says what it says. We all need to learn to live in this brave new world. The Williams student mentioned that there has been a “pretty concerted effort to drown the Williams section with noise.” Sounds like the correct approach. Extra points for the reader who knows which recent science fiction book predicted that noise-drowning would become a widespread technique for protecting privacy.


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