Panel dares to engage social media
Published: Monday, November 8, 2010
Updated: Monday, November 8, 2010 03:11
The Dare to Engage Working Group hosted a town hall meeting last Tuesday to discuss the effects of social media, bullying and harassment on young individuals.
The group was comprised of faculty, students and staff, who discussed the influence of social media on the Internet consumed population in the Newman Conference Center.
According to Associate Vice President of Rutgers University Bill Leipold, the purpose of the meeting was to share perspectives and engage in a different level of conversation with students.
Four guest panelists were invited to speak on the importance of online presence and how to improve online identity. Panelists took questions from students that were geared towards issues regarding lesbian, gay and trans-gender students and the role of the school in helping students socially.
The event was held partially because of a recent incident where student Tyler Clementi committed suicide after discovering his roommate had streamed a video of him in a "sexual encounter" with another man, according to published reports.
When discussing posting material on Facebook and other social media, the panelists urged students to be aware of the consequences.
"Most people think that because you can go behind anonymity, you're not going to be held accountable," said Richard Orbe-Austin, adjunct career counselor and social media coordinator. "There needs to be a larger discussion of online privacy."
Junior Jordan McFarlane-Beau, who is a Freshman Seminar peer mentor, spoke about Tyler Clementi and the repercussions of his roommates' actions.
"There needs to be foresight on what you're putting out there, because it's always going to come back to you," he said.
Chief Librarian Arthur Downing spoke about the government's interference with social media and whether enacting privacy laws would undermine freedom of speech.
"I assume people are here because we don't need the government involved — that the community can do something," said Downing.
"I don't have a negative view of social media but I feel like there is negative usage. Social media is all about person-to-person contact and it's also a way to bring a community together," Orbe-Austin said,
Another discussion focused on the current political environment and the influence of members from prominent media outlets, and according to the panel there is a conversation on bullying and harassment.
"Whatever the issue is, people are speaking up and not just saying it's a prank or teasing but it's about cultural civility," said Kathy Obear, president of the Alliance for Change, an organization of development consultants.
According to Obear, 90 percent of students on campus experience harassment and two-thirds feel unsafe. Therefore, she also emphasized the importance of seeking counseling for those concerns.
Students expressed that they often feel intimidated to enter the Baruch's Counseling Center because of how other students will judge them.
"Rather than have fear, make it about empowering yourself and be able to have that conversation," said Leipold.
"How we speak to each other and communicate is critical to advance," said Ben Corpus, vice president of Student Affairs. "A life was lost perhaps, in part, because we were too busy to reflect, to act and share awareness."