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Community Officer Blog 2012-13

Spotted: University of Bath Library-Cute or Creepy?

 

When I first heard about those groups on Facebook where you can post anonymously about someone, I thought it sounded really cute. Sort of like that bit in the Metro paper where people confess undying love for the person they sat next to on the bus last Tuesday.

Unfortunately, the posts I read on the pages I’ve seen are nothing like that.

Most of them mock people for the way that they look, and other ones appear racist or are pretty creepy posts about girls that make me feel uncomfortable.

As its exam time, there are a lot of people in the library. A lot of stressed people too. I wonder what seeing a post about your hair or the way you dress would do to your concentration? I bet it would annoy you, or maybe upset you, especially if you’re not the type of person who can brush off that sort of thing easily. I know I can’t. Would you be able to concentrate?

Everyone occasionally says something negative about someone else. We all have our own personal taste, and we can’t always resist a quick stupid comment for a cheap laugh from your friends.

But there is a MASSIVE difference between chuckling to yourself about a bad jumper and publicly humiliating someone on a page that has thousands of followers.

Would you stand up and point at someone in the library, shouting at everyone about how crap their clothes are? No, because everyone would be absolutely appalled, and think you were really rude. There’s no real difference to posting it on these pages.

Sure, reading them might be funny, but didn’t we get over ‘mass laughing at someone else’s expense’ at school? As soon as I think about the person in the library that is being looked at and laughed about, I stop finding it so funny. What if you were that person?  How would you feel?

What about the leery ones?  Would you feel comfortable if someone identified you in the library in a way that was really sexual? Would that make you happy, or would that make you feel a bit sick, and a bit freaked out? It has the potential to be a really sweet thing, but the only ones I’ve seen so far have really creeped me out. I probably would get paranoid that people were looking me up and down, or actually deciding the post was wrong and that I’m actually ugly. And all when I’m supposed to be cramming for an exam...  great!

And let’s be honest – there is enough funny crap on the internet without having to resort to upsetting or winding up other stressed/revising students. Stupid little cartoons, You Tube videos, memes... these are all excellent and cause a lot less harm.

We work hard to make sure everyone feels comfortable and included in our community of students at this University and we have had large numbers of complaints about these pages. Please think about how this may affect others; flip flops in winter comment, fair enough. Calling someone fat for eating biscuits? Absolutely not on. 

So please, in a time where everyone is climbing up the wall anyway– have a little compassion for your fellow student, and laugh at something else.  Unlike the page, report it to facebook if you agree with me, let it wither and die.

 

Read what one of our current students has to say:  Spotted at a University Near You: Sexism, Classism & Racism…

 http://www.insightofanintern.com/2013/01/16/spotted-at-a-university-near-you-sexism-classism-and-racism/

Best of luck with your exams, projects and dissertations.

 

*Thanks to Charlotte Britton, Swansea SU Welfare Officer, who shared her initial blog post on this subject  for Welfare Officers nationally to edit and personalise*

Comments

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Simon O'Kane
12:08am on 17 Jan 13 Negative engagement is worse than no engagement at all. If 'engagement' involves sexual harassment, taking pictures of people without their permission, bullying, name-calling, racism and class snobbery, count me out. Multiple students who are victims of sexual assault have complained of flashbacks, holding comments on the Facebook page responsible. Others have told me that the page puts people off using the library, while others still profess to publicly support it purely out of fear of being publicly shamed. I have a friend who had to resit a year because they were bullied to the point of being unable to study effectively. I don't want to imagine how many appeals there are going to be this year due to students being distracted from their exams by what is in some cases outright criminal behaviour. There's a reason the creators of these pages won't reveal themselves; they know full well they will be expelled or even hauled in front of a court if people knew who it was. Facebook can be a platform for more positive things. Last year the "Bath Uni Memes" page had just as many likes if not more; unlike Spotted it was largely user-driven (as opposed to admin-driven) and largely harmless fun.
Conor Sacks
10:01pm on 16 Jan 13 You're just jealous because more people have liked that page than have voted in some SU elections. That page has engaged with students on a level that the SU can only dream of.