WKU watching social media sites for language

Natalie Hayden

Administrators at WKU have noticed a rise in the use of the word “n—-” and other explicit words on the university sponsored Facebook page and Twitter.

Corie Martin, creative web services manager, monitors the WKU “class of” Facebook pages and said the class of 2015 prompted the creation of a code of conduct for the group.

“This year is the first year we’ve ever had to post a code of conduct,” she said. “We had students not just using the N-word, but there was also excessive swearing and excessive talking about partying.”

The code of conduct states that WKU has the right to “edit or remove comments or posts that include excessive cursing; racially insensitive comments; videos or photos of an inappropriate nature and comments that encourage underage drinking or drug usage.”

Martin oversees the Facebook page and takes down any inappropriate comments. Twitter, however, is much more difficult to monitor.

“There’s not really much we can do about comments on Twitter,” Martin said. “From a university standpoint, and myself operating @WKU, I’m not going to respond to someone on Twitter in a public forum and say they need to take their comment down.”

President Gary Ransdell also commented on the misuse of social networks through his Facebook page. Wednesday Ransdell posted a status that said:

“We, at WKU, have become particularly conscious lately of some who are misusing social media and using some poor judgment. So my message here is ‘Be smart.’ Use social media thoughtfully; always remember what you send is permanent and can be viewed years from now. Employers do their homework. They can and will track ways in which prospective employees have used social media. We, at WKU, track such things as well.”

Dr. Lloren Foster, assistant professor of African American Studies, said he thinks African-American students see the  word n—- as a term of endearment, even though it is not. They do not realize the history behind the word.

“I understand the ugliness, the brutality, the violence, the degradation, the subjugation, oppression, exploitation. I could go on all day,” he said.

By using n—- and other degrading terms on social media, students’ futures can be damaged, said Veleashia Smith, assistant director of student development. She said this generation doesn’t understand the importance of social media and that WKU’s staff will try to find a solution and also educate students.

“We’re hoping to add some social media etiquette curriculum to [University Experience] courses in 2013,” Martin said. “I am also working with judicial affairs about adding some specific information to the student handbook.

“I think the vast majority of students on this campus are very respectful with one another,” she said. “It just takes a few students across campus that are kind of mistreating one another to come in and give the whole thing a bad name.”