Ten sorority presidents do not want you to go to Juicycampus.com.
Delivered by hand to the Daily Nexus office on Friday, a letter containing 10 signatures from the UCSB Panhellenic Council Sororities reads as follows:
“On behalf of the Panhellenic Sororities at UC Santa Barbara, we are requesting that the Daily Nexus not publish any article regarding the website JuicyCampus.com. We are united in agreement that the website should not receive attention for fear that publishing an article will serve as further publicity for the site.”
“We find JuicyCampus.com to not only be harmful to the reputations of our houses and our members but also we believe it has the potential to bring individuals to harm themselves or others. We greatly appreciate your understanding of our concerns and hope that you will come to the decision to not print any column regarding this site.”
Launched in August, JuicyCampus.com is an online forum where students can anonymously post “juicy” gossip about their peers and teachers. The site contains pages of rumors that users can read, reply to and rank in terms of “juiciness.” The majority of the posts target the greek system and make allegations ranging from which is the best fraternity to who has herpes.
The forum has caused a stir among those affected by the rumors. Alpha Delta Pi President Jessica Bollong, a third-year history and sociology major, said the heads of the Panhellenic Council wrote to the Nexus following a meeting at which they came to the conclusion that the site was driving members of the greek system apart.
“The site is like a disease,” Bollong said. “It just makes us all look really immature. [Our sororities have] become closer together over the past three years and this is ruining all the progress that we’ve made.”
Second-year student Alenna Curry is one student who was targeted on the site. She said she tried to reason with the site’s administrators and asked Juicycampus.com to remove a post that directly mentioned her in a derogatory manner. When her request was rejected, Curry forwarded Juicycampus.com’s response to the Daily Nexus.
The letter, in addition to denying the request, read “We encourage you to shift your point of view on these posts and the site in general.”
Curry then took the only remaining action available to her by responding directly to the anonymous posts.
“I can’t believe shit like this is still going on in college,” Curry said on the Web site. “We’re adults right? Whether it’s a joke or not it does affect people.”
Juicy Campus declined multiple requests for an interview in time for the publication of this article, stating that the Web site’s CEO would be available for comment in a few weeks at best.
According to the Associated Students Legal Resource Center, targets of the online posts have few options available to them. The landmark 1997 cyberlaw case American Civil Liberties Union v. Reno protects Web sites such as Juicycampus.com from legal action, despite defamatory content. ASLRC attorney Robin Unander said the law is meant to prevent the unconstitutional abridgement of the First Amendment right to free speech.
“Juicy Campus is completely immune from any defamation lawsuits,” Unander said. “Which means that laws protecting online free speech will continue to cost some students their reputations.”
While some have found the posts on the Web site highly threatening, others, like second-year global studies major Zander Argyropoulos, have opted to handle the accusations with a sense of humor. In a phone interview, Argyropoulos laughed about a post accusing him of abusing steroids.
“It’s all true,” Argyropoulos said jokingly.
Other students affected have expressed frustration with their inability to know who posts a particular rumor. The site’s privacy and tracking policy claims it impossible for anyone to discover a poster’s physical location. However, Unander said the Resource Center is currently investigating methods that could potentially identify individuals responsible for libelous statements.
“We are looking into a way to track down specific people that post defamatory content by tracing their computer’s IP numbers,” Unander said. “This method could be used to find the online defamers to be held responsible and hopefully deter others from posting blatantly defamatory content.”