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Blunders get students in trouble

It’s hard to imagine college life without Facebook; as the wireless world continues to improve, it’s becoming increasingly popular among college students across America.

With over 250 million hits each day, Facebook.com has become one of the most popular websites on the Internet and according to a study by the Chronicle of Higher Education, ranks ninth in overall traffic.

A way to communicate with long-lost friends, relatives or even your hall mates, Facebook is being used by many college students.

Some say it’s an obsession, or that it’s stupid and others say it’s an easy way to share pictures and personal information.

Obviously, students are putting themselves at risk by sharing personal information such as cell numbers, addresses, and other biographic information.

An incident occurred at Eastern where a former contact with whom a current student did not wish to associate found that student through the information posted on Facebook. This prompted a security notice from Bettie Ann Brigham, the Vice President for Student Development, urging students to evaluate what is going into their profiles.

“Not all students understand how it works,” Brigham said. “Your profile is being linked to many different profiles.”

Brigham also made the point that the web is public and therefore anyone who wants to could have access to what is being posted on Facebook.

“View your information and photos through the eyes of your grandparents, parents or even future employers,” Brigham said as she alluded to how many employers have started to “Google” perspective employees.

“Students can put up whatever they want but they should think about it,” Brigham said. She shared that she was a part of the Facebook community but has never come across anything offensive.

“I do know that there are a lot of pictures circulating of students with provocative images and violations of the law through substance abuse,” Brigham said. “Students need to think about what is being posted and who could be watching.”

Several Facebook-related incidents at colleges across the country have led to disciplinary action being taken against students. Northern Kentucky University students came under scrutiny after violating a school code when a picture surfaced of a keg in a dorm room.

Two accounts of misconduct arose from the content of several groups on Facebook. A student at Duquesne University who created a group that was deemed homophobic was asked to write a paper about it. At Syracuse University, a group was created for the sole purpose of ridiculing a professor. The students were placed on “disciplinary reprimand.”

Does this mean that Eastern security will be monitoring Facebook and looking for potentially offensive photos of students? Brigham says no and that Eastern assumes that its students will act with good intentions and comply with school policies.

“If we hear of a problem, we will check it out with integrity,” Brigham said.

She also pointed out the various ways that Facebook has played a positive role in the lives of students through prayer chains, support through tough times and even with getting jobs.

“Just like anything, it [Facebook] can be used in a positive way, a brainless way or a negative way,” Brigham said.

Brigham added that the Student Development department was here to help students make the best choices and that they should think about what they are using Facebook for.

Sources: The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed (www.insidehighered.com)

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