I’m watching you…

By on March 1, 2006

So you want to be an Orientation Leader. You submit the perfect application, your interview goes flawlessly, and you’re feeling confident that you nailed your group process evaluation. You don’t have a judicial record and your GPA soared to a 3.9 this semester.

But then you stop to think about what else could play into the application process.


Well, you belong to the group “Jews For Booze” and you did just put up a photo album from this weekend that you named “BEER PONG 4 LIFE.” But that shouldn’t matter, right? The faculty and staff doesn’t know about Facebook, right?


As it turns out, students aren’t the only ones poking and tagging on facebook.com. The site is open to anyone with access to a valid “.edu” e-mail address from the more than 2,000 universities included on the site. That means anyone from your biology professor to the security guard in North Lot could be looking you up, finding your screen name or cell phone number, and ultimately knowing exactly where you live and what your favorite movie is.

“The faculty on Facebook?” asked junior media production major, Scott Wormser. “Well now I’m a little sketched out.”

As of this past December, the nearly two-year-old “college-ocused site” Facebook has become the most popular Web site among college students. However, the recent increase in college faculty and administrator’s usage of the site may change the way students use the online nationwide college yearbook.

Kyle Levesque, a senior interactive digital design major and the Graduate Intern for Quinnipiac’s Orientation program, added that “what students put on Facebook presents a character issue.”

Senior broadcast journalism major Tara McDonald, agreed.

“If you join 80 groups on Facebook and all of them have to do with alcohol, then you’re presenting yourself as the president of drinking, not as someone who is going to necessarily set a good example to other students,” McDonald said.

But rest assured, student leader wannabes, because according to a statement released by the Office of Student Affairs, personal information posted on facebook.com will not play into the application process.

The statement clearly informs concerned parties that “contrary to rumors, facebook.com is not part of the Orientation Leader selection process.”

Since its introduction to campus, facebook.com has caused quite a stir among students, faculty and administrators.

According to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, “the purpose of this site is to enable students to learn more about and be able to contact their fellow students.” However, faculty and administration from many universities are expanding upon the Web site’s uses.

Facebook spokesperson Chris Hughes said that the creators did not intend for faculty to also use the site. However, he said, it is something the Web site’s creators and users have to deal with.

“Faculty and administrators are able to consider Facebook a forum of expression for their students, and they are legally able to regulate their behavior or use that information to make decisions,” Hughes said. “It’s certainly not what we designed Facebook to be used for, but there’s not much we can do about it.”

“In some ways I feel as though it is an invasion of privacy,” said Stefanie Rice, a junior nursing major. Rice also said administrators should not make their judgment on a student’s ability to participate in school-related organizations based on their social life.

Patrick Ippolito, a sophomore entrepreneurship and small business management major, as well as the SGA Sophomore Class President, agreed.

“It’s a huge problem,” Ippolito said. “Facebook is a personal outlet for students, and the faculty and staff shouldn’t use it as a resource or against students.”

“It’s awkward to have teachers on Facebook,” said junior broadcast journalism major, Caroline Harned. Harned also said that what students have on Facebook should not affect their grades.

For students who are bothered by university’s faculty and staff using Facebook, the Web site has an option other than censoring your Facebook profiles: just change your settings.

“If users do not want faculty or staff to see their profile information, all they have to do is visit the ‘My Privacy’ section and change their settings,” Hughes said. “They can make it so that only students can see the information or even just friends. Users have complete control over who can see what.”

Scott Hazan, the former Assistant Director of the Student Center and of Student Leadership Development, was eager to speak up about facebook.com.

“I heard about it at the beginning of the year and was receiving articles about it from professionals from all over, so that sparked my curiosity,” Hazan said. “Whoever wants to should be able to be on Facebook. It’s a public forum, and students need to be aware of what they’re putting on there.

“Students are uneducated and think that what they put on Facebook is private. They’re not cautious and think it’s all a joke, but they really need to get smarter.”

Cheryl Barnard, the Associate Dean of Student Affairs at Quinnipiac, agreed with Hazan.

“I worry about it,” Barnard said. “Students think it’s just something fun to do, but they have to realize that it’s a public place.”

The same statement released by the Office of Student affairs said: “As administrators, we are concerned about the casualness and ease [with] which students display personal information. Information which may seem private to one individual is certainly not private when posted on a public server.”

But do not worry, students. The administrators at Quinnipiac are not signing up for a Facebook account to check out pictures of what you did last weekend.

“I log in about two times a week,” Hazan said. “And I don’t go on looking for stuff, I don’t go looking to bust somebody. There are many great uses for Facebook, but it can also be dangerous.”

Barnard compared what students put on facebook.com to making posters and hanging them up in the Student Center.

“Would you put your room number, screen name and cell phone number on posters and hang them all over the Student Center?” Barnard asked. “Because that’s what you’re doing when you put stuff up on Facebook.”

Hazan warns students that potential employers could be recent college graduates with their Facebook status still intact. Anyone on Facebook essentially has a right to track everything that is accessible on the site.

Perhaps it is time for these students to start thinking about how they really want to be presented to the Facebook community. After all, do they really want to advertise to their English 101 professor that “My Alcohol Level Is Higher Than My G.P.A”?


About Erin Eldfelt and Alison Feller