PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY
9/2/2014

SGA decision on Web site troubling

STAFF EDITORIAL

Personal responsibility is supposed to be something a student refines in college. The recent decision to ban the Web site Juicycampus.com from the campus Internet network runs contrary to the idea of personal responsibility.
The role of the Student Government Association is not to dictate what content is appropriate for the rest of the student body, and it is not to give the administration the right to censor what students view online.

Certainly, our peers are writing horrible and vile things about many people in the Pepperdine community on this site and hiding behind their ability to post anonymously without repercussion.

After a two-hour debate, the students of SGA overwhelming voted to assume the role of parents and guardians and asked for a ban — a vote signifying that they do not trust they students they represent or their judgment.

This decision could represent a slippery slope. If Juicy Campus is banned, why not ban pornography? Why not ban MySpace, where equally disparaging remarks can be made to others in the school community?

Reactionary resolutions like the Juicy Campus document are meant to show the administration the opinion and suggestions of the entire student body, but did the lopsided vote truly express students’ opinions? The whole process happened so fast that it’s hard to verify that answer.

No one supports this site or the use of hate speech in the online forums. One SGA senator offered a heart-felt story about one of her freshman residents that transferred to Pepperdine this semester. The senator, also the girl’s RA, found her resident crying hysterically after discovering that her peers were writing hateful things about her anonymously.

The senator called for action to protect students from the pain and suffering inflicted by this site. The senator proved that not all Pepperdine students are mean and cowardly by supporting and showing that she cared for her resident. That comforting and support is what makes Pepperdine, SGA, students and administrators Christian leaders — not the attempt to ban an online forum.

The students on SGA desired to be leaders by taking a strong stance against this Web site. There are more than 50 college campuses that are on the site and Pepperdine may be the first university to take action against Juicy Campus.

SGA should take a lead in the dialogue about why students are using this site and how to make changes. The desires of the students on SGA should not overcome students’ ability to make their own choices.

Former President Dwight Eisenhower once said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do what you want done because he wants to do it.” SGA is leading by attempting to force students not to post on the site, as opposed to showing them the damage they are causing to the Pepperdine community.

Real leadership in this case would be to take the more than $12,000 of student money at their disposal and do something that benefits students. Instead of spending large amounts of money making freshman class T-shirts and senior class sweatshirts, make shirts with a slogan that express that this community is against hate speech and bigotry. Circulate pledges for students, faculty and administrators to sign promising not to post comments or visit the site.

Also, SGA should pass a resolution asking the administration to create a new Web site where Pepperdine students can anonymously post positive things about their peers that would normally go unnoticed. If a student receives a hometown scholarship for community service, that person’s roommate or friends could let other students know of that achievement.

Taking an active role and finding ways to lead the Pepperdine community is the task of SGA. Asking for censorship is an attempt to keep students off the Web site that will not work and sets a dangerous precedent — saying that we, as college students, are reliant on others to determine what is best for us. 

We will never accept or support an action that attempts to censor or prevent students from an action under the argument that students are being protected.