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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Employers: For a good time … Google

    Remember when kids used to write nasty comments on the bathroom stalls and a disgruntled janitor would have to scrub it off?

    In the age of technology, we have upgraded from bathroom stalls to the World Wide Web, where people can post comments and spread rumors anonymously. This time, however, they are not scrubbed away. Instead, they remain, easily searched and read by anyone who knows how to use Google … including potential employers.

    Early this month, The Washington Post ran a series of articles about several women law students at Yale who were the subject of www.AutoAdmit.com message board postings. AutoAdmit is a law school discussion board about law school admissions, standardized tests, law school rankings and whatever users want to discuss.

    For potential law students, there are useful discussions and tools on the site. At first glance, however, the Web site seems like a free-for-all, an excuse to be crude, to brag and to put others down by means of sexist and racist postings.

    One woman said she believes that the negative posts are the reason she was unable to get a job this summer, because anyone, including employers, can access the posts through Google.

    The postings are vulgar, degrading and harmful. They tend to be graphic in nature and are backed only by the credibility of a fabricated screen name. They sometimes include pictures of the subjects and encourage people to rate and comment on them.

    Some of the comments taken from AutoAdmit include: “”I think I will sodomize her. Repeatedly.”” Another posting is addressed to employers, telling them not to hire any of the women from a provided list that includes their name and school.

    Clearly, these postings have become more than just personal insults. They are affecting students’ professional lives.

    Employers can simply type in a potential employee’s name, click “”search,”” and if the employee is the subject of one of these chats, it will come up.

    But it is irresponsible for employers to take these postings at face value. Relying solely on the comments and rumors of anonymous individuals is careless, especially when posting a comment is so easy to do, with no identification required.

    These postings should not be used as a judgment of character or to determine someone’s employment.

    With sites like AutoAdmit, there is absolutely no control over what is said. Employers are able to see what any random person, hiding behind a screen name, decides to say about potential employees.

    And there is no way to determine the validity of these postings. They could very well be true, but since they are anonymous there is no way of knowing. People are going to mouth off, especially when given the opportunity to do so anonymously. For this reason, the postings are completely useless for employers and in no way can exemplify the qualifications or character of a potential employee.

    “”At Yale, we have tried to educate employers that many of the victims have not participated in these discussion boards. The comments do not reflect their character and should not be used to evaluate their merits,”” said Kwame Spearman, a first-year law student at Yale Law School who has been involved in discussions regarding anonymous online postings and employer hiring practices.

    I will be the last person to run down the street like a screaming banshee protesting Facebook, MySpace or any online networking site, including AutoAdmit. And my intention is not to say that there is anything wrong with these sites.

    The issue is the users and their surprising willingness to anonymously say malicious things that are oftentimes fabricated. And more importantly, that employers may be using this as a source of judgment.

    It is unacceptable for students to have to be concerned about anonymous postings, made-up or not, when applying for a job. Unfortunately, the trend seems to be that few people are willing to say anything or speak out against the postings for fear of backlash. That seems counter-productive.

    And just in case you think everything I have said is ludicrous, I have left you a little space below (on the online version) where you can comment to your heart’s content. Happy posting.

    Chelsea Jo Simpson is a journalism sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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