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Mul­tiple Instagram accounts have cropped up in the last few months ded­i­cated to pub­licly shaming Hillsdale stu­dents for a variety of offenses. Whether it’s a “bad” outfit, too much public affection or a myriad of videos plucked from parties or a friend’s Snapchat story, these accounts gain their fol­lowing by mocking the unaware.

The accounts cross lines. At least, they do when no effort is made to conceal the identity of the offender.

While these accounts are a display of the natural checks and bal­ances employed by a com­munity to quell deviant behavior, tar­geting people online can — and often does — cross a line. Although this line can feel arbi­trary, these accounts are most likely to cross it when they fail to con­sider anonymity.

At a school of just under 1,500, most stu­dents are able to rec­ognize people, even if they do not know them per­sonally. Unlike similar accounts at larger schools, where even an unblurred face will be most likely unknown, Hillsdale stu­dents are able to identify almost anybody in a public picture. This means that if and when someone’s embar­rassing moment is posted to a public account, it’s not just a random person’s embar­rassing moment, it’s that of a classmate, sorority sister, or the AJ’s barista.

And posts can be spun one way or another, moving quickly from light­hearted to mean-spirited in just one caption.

There is room at Hillsdale for these accounts, but only if done in a way that pro­tects people from having those posts follow them for the rest of their time at school. College is a time of growth and solid­i­fying identity. There is ample oppor­tunity to poke fun at those who are pur­pose­fully wanting to stand out — those in capes or riding uni­cycles — but shaming those who are simply unaware, and doing so in a way that will follow them, goes too far.

 

  • Jen­nifer Melfi

    wow. anti-free speech being given an even bigger platform at hillsdale. How has so much changed in just over a decade?

    • Jen­nifer Melfi

      social media is shining a light into what has become a dark corner (hillsdale college). What kind of unseemly things are going on in there?