WKU students oppose censorship on Twitter

Michael McKay

Dallas, Texas, senior Mario Nguyen was among many of the students who got fired up Tuesday when reading about the university’s policy on external communications.

Nguyen was in class in Mass Media and Technology Hall — home of the School of Journalism and Broadcasting — where the First Amendment is posted on the walls and podiums.

“For me, being in that school was really funny when I read the article, thinking about how ridiculous that (policy) was,” Nguyen said.

Instead of tweeting his thoughts using the #WKU hashtag, Nguyen created his own, #Bigredcommunism, which he coupled with an image of Big Red surrounded by communist symbols.

Under Big Red, the text reads:

“Join the Revolution! As social media constituents, we are the strongest form of marketing WKU has. By Unfriending/Unfollowing, you are helping limit WKU where they want to limit us.”

“I figured if I could make this go viral with the very medium they are trying to limit us with against them, I figured we would win out,” Nguyen said. “Or at least show them a thing or two.”

Nguyen said he is going to create images and political cartoons to get the word out for his campaign. He said he’s working to gain awareness of students.

“So far, it’s really just getting it out there,” he said. “I’m still in that phase — it’s only been one day.”

Nguyen said he’s going to budget his time to continue his campaign.

“As long as they keep that policy in place and they try to do this — I’m going to try, in addition to all of my schoolwork, to do this,” he said.

SGA Senator Keyana Boka said her organization is working on a campaign of its own — a social media awareness campaign.

Boka said the goal of the social media awareness campaign would help students take care of their own accounts, not telling them what they should or shouldn’t post.

“The social media awareness campaign is kind of a different aspect completely,” Boka said. “This is more just a friendly kind of reminder about safety. It’s kind of the other side.”

Boka said SGA talked about the policy at her campus improvements committee meeting. No one seemed to agree with the administration.

“(The committee is) more on the side of ‘Everyone should be able to say what they want,’” she said.

Boka said that while she personally could understand where the administration is coming from with the policy, she also thinks students should have their rights protected.

“We pay to go here, so we should be able to say what we think,” she said.

“Inappropriate” varies in meaning, she said.

“It’s just a very open word. Saying that something’s inappropriate is basically saying they don’t like it,” she said.

A resolution that supports the removal of the section in the handbook that includes the policy was scheduled to receive its second read at Tuesday’s SGA meeting.

Its author, senator Christopher Costa, pushed it back four weeks in order to do additional research.

Oakland junior Londa Stockton said she thinks the policy needs to clarify what would be considered harassment.

“Right now it’s too broad — it could be anything,” Stockton said.

Stockton said there are a lot of personal opinions on what would be considered inappropriate.

“To actually define what is inappropriate and what is offensive to use on the Web, especially when it comes to Twitter or against the school — that’s going to be a blurry line.”

Stockton said she looked at the WKU hashtag after Tuesday’s article about the policy was published. She said the reaction was enormous.

“It was kind of like once you tell someone not to do something, they do it,” Stockton said. “That’s exactly what the student body did.

“Once they were like, ‘Oh, we’re going to watch the hashtag,’ it was like everybody who had a Twitter that went to Western used it.”

Stockton herself tweeted using #WKU, “All I’m going to say is that this #Wku thing, is overrated. Students have opinions. One can’t keep the student body silent. Nice try though.”

Stockton works as a babysitter, and her Twitter account is public. She said she has her own rules regarding what she tweets.

“If I really wanted to put something out there that would be really shameful against whatever, I wouldn’t do it publicly,” she said.

“There are something you shouldn’t say, and everyone knows what they are.”