University administrators have decided to “table” SGA’s request to remove JuicyCampus.com from the campus network, according to Mark Davis, dean of Student Affairs. The final decision has been left up to President Andrew K. Benton.
After considerable review by a university subcommittee comprised of several Seaver deans, the Provost, and Information Technology officials, administrators decided that restricting access to the site would be too controversial.
“Concerns were raised that even though SGA proposed the ban as a statement of protest and protection, if the university restricted the site, others might misinterpret the step as a sign of distrust of our students and a lack of appreciation for freedom of expression,” Davis said in an e-mail.
Davis added that in order to restrict the site, there would need to be a comprehensive review process involving all constituents and that he doubted the community would support any such decision.
However, SGA President Andy Canales claims that, overall, the resolution has been supported by the community.
“This is a decision that came from the student body,” Canales said. “There has been some criticism but overall I have received a lot of support from students who are very appreciative of our effort to take a stand.”
Additionally, Canales said that if administrators decide not to honor SGA’s request, the university would owe them an explanation.
“I think that administrators would obviously have to explain to SGA why the decision was made,” he said. “As far as how we would react, I think that it was a good thing for us to lead the discussion on the Web site that week and to expose it for what it is and not let it grow gradually overtime and continue to affect students.”
Although administrators have not yet made the final decision on the ban, they have sent letters to the operators of JuicyCampus, its hosting company Media Temple, Inc., and its advertiser, Google.com, expressing disappointment over the irresponsible manner in which the companies conduct business.
In a letter to the operators of JuicyCampus, Davis demanded the operators remove offensive, libelous posts from the site and monitor the site in real time to ensure the posts remain clean, suggesting that what is posted often falls outside the boundaries of free speech.
Davis also implied the company could potentially be sued for what they allow on their site.
“Without your cooperation, the cost of identifying the authors of such defamatory comments and correcting inaccuracies are quite high; it might require the filing of a lawsuit, which is almost always a costly endeavor,” he wrote.
Chief Information Officer Timothy Chester also sent a letter to Media Temple and Google. In the letter, Chester requests that Media Temple suspend its hosting services to the site until it is cleaned up and effectively monitored at all times.
Chester also asks the company to consider whether hosting a “virtual bathroom wall” fits in with its business practices.
None of the businesses have responded to the letters.
While the JuicyCampus saga seems to be dying down at Pepperdine, campuses across the country are facing similar dilemmas over the site.
Loyola Marymount students have created a Facebook group entitled “Ban JuicyCampus!!!” which has 849 members.
Student newspapers at Loyola, Yale, Baylor and Emory, as well as national publications such as Newsweek, have reported on the site and its effects on those targeted by the anonymous posts. Canales said he has also been interviewed by the Associated Press, an international news wire service.
In a Feb. 8 editorial in Baylor’s student newspaper The Lariat, staff suggested that their school should consider how Pepperdine reacted to JuicyCampus.
“Maybe we should take a page from the Pepperdine playbook and protect not just our privacy, but also our futures.”