by Julia Ernst
A university in Tennessee has become the first public school to ban the gossip Web site JuicyCampus.com.
According to reports, Michael Freeman, Tennessee State University’s (TSU) vice president for student affairs, has blocked access to the Web site on the campus.
JuicyCampus founder Matt Ivester claims that TSU is “joining the ranks of the Chinese government in Internet censorship and spitting in the faces of everyone who believes in free discourse online” in an article from TechCrunch.com.
Ivester continued that the idea of banning JuicyCampus has been considered “and flatly rejected at the nation’s premier universities (including Yale, Duke, Princeton, Harvard and many others).”
In addition, he claims that these schools “decided that limiting free speech would be fundamentally incompatible with their educational missions” and that TSU stands in “stark contrast,” because it decided to “censor the speech of its own students.”
Though TSU is the first public university to ban JuicyCampus, a number of private and religious schools have already done so.
In the article from last week’s edition of The Rider News, Dean of Students Anthony Campbell said that simply banning access to JuicyCampus through Rider’s server, as TSU has done, would not alleviate the problems caused by the site. Students would still gain access through home computers and cell phones.
Campbell also explained that Rider is not able to close the JuicyCampus Web site in its entirety.
“Students have asked me to stop it, but I can’t,” Campbell said. “You can’t shut it down.”
Keith Kemo, director of Judicial Affairs, said that if it were proven that one student is harassing another through the Web site, he or she would be violating Rider’s Verbal/Non-Verbal Harassment, Humiliation, Intimidation or Discrimination Policy. Public Safety would then “investigate for the behavior.”
There are problems that go beyond providing student access to the Web site, Kemo continued.
“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.”