Students have been warned since the advent of social media not to place damaging photos or text on Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites. And well they should, considering the string of school suspensions prompted by such postings.
Calvin College student Tony Harris was suspended for lewd content on his Facebook profile this February; in 2008 Katherine Evans was “disciplined for ‘cyberbullying’ a teacher on Facebook,” according to Wired.com; and this week Lindsey Wessel came under fire allegedly for bikini shots posted to her MySpace profile.
She will not be allowed to perform at Burleson High School’s first football game allegedly because of provocative swimwear photos and “offensive language” on her MySpace page, reported Scott Gordon for NBCDFW on August 10. Like Evans, Wessel’s mother is citing free speech issues. “I really don’t think a private MySpace should have consequences for my daughter,” she told reporters, adding “I believe in the right to privacy, the right to free speech, and I believe that everyone has the right to have a private life that others cannot intrude upon.”
In the first and last case listed above, school officials claim the students signed agreements which held them to a higher level of behavior than average students, claiming this wasn’t a free speech issue. However, professors might want to watch their own “professional image” online, especially if their feed is posted to their University website.
“I have sunk so low on Couch that my back is my a— and my neck is my back. I’m drinking beer out of my coffee cup,” tweeted Matt Gourley on Tuesday, August 11. Gourley indicated that he would be teaching film acting at Long Beach City College this fall semester but this correspondent could not locate him on the LBCC website.
“Happy Fourth of You Lie,” tweeted Dr. Ray Winbush this Fourth of July. On Twitter he describes himself as “A person attempting to replace white supremacy with justice.” That evening, Prof. Winbush wrote that he was “Looking at the Washington Monument at night with the two blinking lites at the top. Looks like a Klansman in a hood with red eyes.”
According to his website, Prof. Winbush “directs the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University in Baltimore Maryland [sic],” is the author of The Warrior Method: A Program for Rearing Healthy Black Boys, and previously directed the Race Relations Institute at Fisk University while teaching there. He also advocates reparation payments for American slavery.
Clinical Assistant Professor Sam Howard-Spink of New York University (NYU) doesn’t like Accuracy in Academia too much. After following him on Twitter, the self-described “music business journalist, analyst and editor” blocked Campus Report and made the following public tweet: “@campusreport aka Accuracy in Academia: take your right-wing idiocy and misinformation campaigns elsewhere. You are intellectually bankrupt.”
If you don’t think professors’ personal Twitter activities reflect back on the institutions they work for, consider this: “@samhowardspink” runs a Twitter widget on his faculty bio page. Anyone visiting this section of the NYU website can see his comments.
Bethany Stotts is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.