by Amber Cox
Students are giving the word “slander” a whole new meaning on the Web site JuicyCampus.com.
The site allows students to post anonymously about their college classmates and anything else “bugging” them about school. Dean of Students Anthony Campbell is anything but thrilled about the use of the site by Rider students.
“I think JuicyCampus is a brutal Web site,” Campbell said. “In many ways, it’s like an electronic bathroom graffiti wall.”
Some of the posts are innocuous (“finals are only a month away! Time sure does fly when your [sic] having fun”). But most criticize people’s looks, relationships, personalities and lifestyle choices, often in extremely profane and graphic ways.
The Web site, which has spread from the Ivy League schools to campuses across the country, includes posts such as the following, from an out-of-state university: “[Name] is such a f—in whore she will f— anybody! she already did me!”
In an article from TechCrunch.com, JuicyCampus founder Matt Ivester stated that he wants the site to be “a place where students can discuss the topics that matter to them most in a manner they deem appropriate.” Ivester has also publicly defended the site on free-speech grounds and stated that the discussions it fosters happen on college campuses anyway.
New Jersey, however, has issued a subpoena saying that JuicyCampus violates the Consumer Fraud Act and that members of the site are not being reliably informed. The subpoena asks for an explanation of how it selects “supported campuses,” how users’ school affiliations are verified and how the site enforces the use of parental consent forms for those under 18.
The Web site’s terms and conditions say that it “may remove offensive content that is abusive, obscene or an invasive [sic] of people’s privacy.” But another section of the terms and conditions states that “JuicyCampus shall have no obligation to monitor content on the site or to delete content from the site, even if JuicyCampus is notified that such content violates the agreement.”
Sophomore Brittany Bickerton has been personally affected by the Web site, but she is not upset by it.
“I’m not one to really care what others think of me,” Bickerton said. “I know who I am, and my friends all know who I am, so if someone wants to make judgments about me, then they can really do what they want.”
She said that what was posted about her isn’t nearly as bad as some of the things said about others.
“It does bother me a little that people have the nerve to just start rumors because they have nothing better to do,” Bickerton said. “It is a very degrading Web site and just made to entertain children who have yet to grow up past high school and realize that this is college.”
The posts with a person’s full name have many replies, but most are from friends of the person being discussed on the site, supporting them and denying the things posted.
One post compares the site to the “Burn Book” used in the movie Mean Girls. Both use the same concept: criticizing people for irrelevant matters.
Some believe the site is used for a student’s own purpose to find out what people really think of him or her.
“I think a lot of people put their own names on there just to see what people say about them,” said junior Karl Craft. “I think they do it for attention.”
Other posts simply state that the site should be stopped.
“Students have asked me to stop it, but I can’t,” Campbell said. “You can’t shut it down.”
Some posts, however, have replies that state, “Please remove this post — Rider Administration.”
Not all students think that the site should be eliminated, but they do think that adjustments need to be made on what is allowed to be posted.
“I wouldn’t necessarily take it down,” said junior Brett Raczynski. “I mean, sure, some of the stuff on it’s ridiculous, and the fact that you can actually put someone’s name up there is terrible. The site should at least not allow people to put someone’s full name up there. The site just allows people to say what they’re thinking. It’s only a matter of time before the site gets taken down, anyway.”
Keith Kemo, director of Judicial Affairs, said that if it can be proven that a particular student is harassing another student on the site, it would be a violation of Rider’s Verbal/Non-Verbal Harassment, Humiliation, Intimidation or Discrimination Policy. He said that Public Safety would then “investigate for the behavior.”
“The question that has to be answered, though, is how can you prove it?” Kemo said. “The site is completely anonymous. We don’t police these sites. We don’t have the time or the manpower to do it.”
Campbell said blocking the Web site through Rider’s server wouldn’t have much of an impact. Students would still be able to access it through their home computers and cell phones. Campbell thinks that people are hiding behind the anonymity of the Web site and that “people feel free to attack others” when it is anonymous.
He also believes that the technology of today’s world does not allow people to learn how to correctly deal with confrontation.
“We have to learn as adults how to understand conflict,” Campbell said. “When you don’t see the emotion of the person in front of you, you don’t know you’re hurting them.”
Students at George Washington University are taking a different kind of approach to get people to stop using the site. They are replying to posts with irrelevant Wikipedia information, nonsense poetry and even entries from the Bible.
“They are making it uncomfortable for people to read,” Campbell said.
Members of Rider sorority Alpha Xi Delta find the site wasteful.
“That thing needs to come down for the sake of everyone on this campus,” one sister said.
Another believes that “it’s going to ruin lives.”
Students of Greek Life are particularly outraged, as the sororities and fraternities on campus have been targeted on the site.
A member of one of the four sororities on campus thinks that the site is a “complete waste of time.”
“It’s the most ridiculous, obnoxious, negative Web site that I have ever come across,” she said. “There’s nothing positive that comes out of it.”