Campus residents beware: don’t put anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t want your resident assistant (RA) to see.
Online social networks like the one found at www.facebook.com, which allow members to post photos and information about themselves for others to view, are now subject to scrutiny from Residence Hall assistants, directors (RDs) and other staff members. Residence Hall officials said they may take disciplinary action against residents if they post pictures of themselves violating school policy — such as consuming alcohol in their rooms — on the internet.
“Students need to recognize that Facebook isn’t private,” said Joyce Ester, Housing and Residential Services judicial affairs coordinator.
Ester said students living in the residence halls have been informed not to post pictures on their room doors or walls that show them violating school policy because they can be written up by any staff member who sees it. However, she said they have not officially been warned about posting pictures online.
Individual RDs may have already spoken with their residents about the Facebook issue, Ester said.
“It’s not a bad idea to have conversations with students at the beginning of the year,” she said.
Although they can write residents up for posting incriminating pictures online, staff members do not plan on deliberately searching for such pictures, Ester said — they will only act if something specific is presented to them.
“It’s the same as someone sliding an incriminating photo under the door,” said Lisa Slavid, Housing and Residential Services student leadership coordinator.
In order for judicial action to be taken, the date, location and person in the photograph must be unambiguous, Ester said. She said the action taken will depend on the offense, but it will be the same as if a staff member had personally caught the resident.
“If there’s evidence of someone doing something illegal, anyone – RDs, staff, police — can follow up on it,” Slavid said,
Ester said residents may also be asked to talk to a staff member if the content of the picture gives cause for concern, especially if it involves a danger to their health or safety.
“If we become aware of something that’s against school policy or putting someone in danger, we have to act on it,” Ester said.
Currently, no official school policy regarding the Facebook or other similar web sites exists because it is such a new issue, Ester said. Likewise, the RA handbook does not yet mention it.
“Every university in the country is looking at this,” Slavid said. “There is no policy because this is a new sociological tool.”