I definitely feel that, joke or not, Pryor’s comment was distasteful and rude, especially with this last year brimming with racial controversy. He probably should not have said what said at all.
But, I think that’s the point of Yik Yak – to say what’s on your mind and to do so somewhat anonymously. That message is clear right on Yik Yak’s site: “Chime in with your thoughts and opinions. Be yourself!”
I sometimes think that colleges forget that social media isn’t going away. New generations of students will step foot on campus with more technology, more social media outlets through which they communicate with friends and family, and vent about their troubles.
Students are going to use social media to announce the good, the bad, and the ugly. Colleges can’t control them, and unless a student has committed libel or some other horrific act, what’s the point in punishing them?
Punishing them, in my opinion, will only instigate students to use social to lash out against a college, and continue to tarnish the relationship between a college and its students.
Instead, I think that colleges should use these cases to teach students how to positively engage with social media. Some colleges, like the Missouri School of Journalism, are even instituting social media classes. These schools, in my opinion have a leg up over old-school institutions. They are guiding and encouraging students to use social media for good rather than evil, and to use it productively.
Colleges should teach their students a thing or two about how to use social media, not punish them for using it. After all, most schools, like Colorado College, build their mission statements around challenging students to think innovatively and imaginatively as they enter the world after graduation. And, students are paying colleges for an education – what’s the harm in schooling them about social media best practices?
Finally, colleges that squash students’ self-expression on social media run the risk of losing prospective students, a.k.a customers, which means they could be missing out on revenue.
Like I said, the future waves of students will come to campus more tech-savvy than the last ones, and will be speaking their minds on social media outlets that don’t even exist yet.
Don’t punish students – prepare them.