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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Some want revenge

    Some want revenge

    Have you recently sat behind someone in a lecture who was glued to his or laptop screen, scrolling down the pages of racy gossip Web sites such as JuicyCampus and The Dirty?

    Or are you already hooked?

    Student use of these sites has jumped within the last year, and individuals targeted in uncensored, anonymous posts have begun deluging university administrators across the country with complaints of defamation.

    The UA doesn’t seem to be feeling the heat – yet.

    “”I’ve only had one student ask me questions about it, but we’ve never had a complaint about anything written on there,”” said Anthony Skevakis, program coordinator of judicial affairs for the Dean of Students. “”Our code of conduct does not extend to social sites.””

    Yale is considering blocking JuicyCampus.com from its network or punishing users who log onto it, while Pepperdine’s student government voted 23-5 to ban the site in February.

    Anonymous users at various universities are facing lawsuits for defamation due to postings they’ve submitted to these sites, according to the Yale Daily News.

    JuicyCampus.com in particular has seen a boom in visits since its launch in October. In the past six months, the site has received more than 10,000 requests from students asking that their campus be added to the network, said Matt Ivester, a 2005 Duke University graduate and the site’s founder.

    “”I think that college students have shown there’s a clear demand for this type of Web site that wasn’t being filled previously,”” he said. “”On colleges campus all over the country, students are flocking to JuicyCampus because they’re craving this type of speech.””

    Ivester said he does not feel responsible for the predominantly negative content posted on his site, which includes accusations of named students, including members of Greek organizations and high-profile college athletes, having STDs and committing rape.

    Some students worry that the content posted about them may be viewed by future employers, decreasing their chance of landing a job.

    Because of the nature of the sites, however, that would be an unlikely result, said John Perry, senior coordinator for the UA’s Career Services.

    “”I can’t imagine any legitimate employer would actually look at them,”” he said. “”They seem too cheesy, and how would they know if anything is accurate? I can’t imagine it, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen.””

    UA students said they access the sites for pure entertainment, rather than to post information.

    “”It’s entertaining – like reality TV,”” said Kristen Carmichael, a pre-physiology senior. “”You go into it knowing that everything posted is probably 100 percent false and ridiculous, but you still get a good laugh.””

    She added that people shouldn’t overreact to content posted merely as entertainment.

    “”People need to be mature enough to realize it is by no way a serious or credible source of information, just a place to relieve stress and bitch at each other,”” she said.

    Others hardly agree.

    “”I’ve looked at it and I think it’s terrible,”” said Lauren Post, a psychology sophomore. “”I went through and deleted all my acquaintances on Facebook who could put (my pictures) on The Dirty. I would never do that to anyone and I don’t know who would.””

    Whether the Dean of Students would become involved depends on what is being said about someone, Skevakis said.

    “”If something was going on where a student furnished us with information that dealt with a potential suicide or safety issue, that would be taken into consideration,”” he said. “”There’s a difference between stupid gossip and a threat. It would depend on whether or not it’s actionable.””

    In regard to banning the site or taking actions against students who visit it at the UA, Skevakis said it is highly unlikely.

    “”If a university like ours decides to ban something from a network, it would usually have to be related to a user agreement policy issue or an issue with campus use, not with the type of speech they’re using,”” he said. “”Yale’s not a public institution, so they have a lot more levity of what they allow into their network.””

    Ivester insisted that what is written and what is taken to heart depends entirely on the discretion of those who access it.

    “”I really think that it’s up to the personal responsibility of our users to use the site in compliance with our terms and conditions, along with their own personal values,”” he said. “”Reasonable people recognize that it’s unsubstantial online posts and take it for what it is.””

    Ivester said the banning of his site from college campuses would be unconstitutional.

    “”I absolutely think it would go against freedom of expression,”” he said. “”To me it would feel wrong for an institution of higher education to try and ban a form of speech.””

    If a university filed suit against the site, its representatives would fight it, but that situation hasn’t arisen yet, he said.

    So why all the hype?

    Skevakis believes people have a story to tell, and in this generation, if something needs to be said, the Internet constitutes the form it’s expressed in.

    “”Because of conditioning and the culture in the age population, they may feel more compelled to write it online,”” he said. “”Students want to have their time or piece, and some want revenge. Based on what they’re writing, I think they want a little bit of retribution.””

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