Facebook page under administrative fire
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 14:02
The USU Confessions Facebook page is causing concern among USU administration. The use of USU trademarked logos and submissions on the page were already concerning to the administration, but Wednesday evening one post triggered an investigation.
The post in question reads, “My friends ran a train on a Kappa Delta. They all took turns while it was dark. I don’t think she knows.”
The public page was anonymously created Feb. 13 and accumulated more than 2,000 followers. The page facilitates a way for users to submit an anonymous confession and for others to publicly reply. The majority of the confessions involve the topics of dating, sexual promiscuity, drinking, drug use and various illegal activities.
Student conduct officer Krystin Deschamps asked members of the Student Health Services Office, Sexual Assault and Anti-Violence Office and USU Police Department to investigate the post.
“I suspect that 85 percent of these posts are not true at all, but we can’t hear that somebody may have been raped and not do anything about it,” Deschamps said.
Deschamps said the school could be found at fault for such confessions since the page was created using the USU name.
“It’s a violation of federal law if the university knows or should have known about a sexual assault and didn’t do anything about it,” Deschamps said. “The institution could be in serious trouble. We could be investigated by the Committee of Civil Rights and have to pay a lot of money in damages if we were found in violation.”
Student Health Service prevention specialist Ryan Barfuss said the investigation not only brought up concerns about the declared rape but also the issue of normalizing drugs and alcohol use. He said many posts glorify getting stoned and drunk, especially on USU’s campus.
“It’s maybe 1 percent of students that might be doing that, but all the posts make it seem like everyone is doing it and that worries me,” Barfuss said.
Barfuss said he is also concerned about those “throwing out” names of people they believe wrote the post.
“For example, someone saying, ‘That post is about John Doe,’ but what if it wasn’t John Doe?” Barfuss said. “You have to worry about ruining their reputation.”
SAVVI coordinator Monica Bailey said those who post other people’s names in relation to a confession are not thinking beyond that moment.
“Students need to remember that the things they say, true or false, implicate and can endanger not only the well-being but the professional standing of other people,” Bailey said.
Bailey said in regard to the posting of illegal actions that the page is in the public eye.
“I would caution students that it’s not going to be completely anonymous and it’s not harmless,” Bailey said. “Facebook is not private.”
Barfuss said if someone is going to post, they need to be prepared for the consequences.
“Facebook cooperates with law enforcement, so people have to be worried,” Barfuss said. “You have to be worried about anything you post on the Internet, not just what you post on Facebook. Posts can always be tracked back to your specific computer.”
Deschamps said the goal of the school is not to shut down the page.
“On one hand I feel like it’s college students being college students, I get that,” Deschamps said. “Students want to blow off steam, I get that. I read between the lines I see people who feel isolated. I suspect the intention behind this website is to give people a forum to go to express themselves, but what it really is is a hostile environment.”
Barfuss said those who post need to censor what they are putting on the page.
“Some of them are good intentioned and some of them are just crude, rude and just crazy,” Barfuss said. “There are small glimpses of humanity where somebody sticks up for someone, but they’re the minority.”