Rachael Harvey, Section 01
Critical Synthesis: Non-Routine Collective Action on Social Media on UMW Campus
Through both the Inside Higher Ed article and The Freelance Star article, I was able to gather an understanding of the effects of how social media platforms hinder a college campus community and experiences within those communities. The Freelance Star mainly focused on UMW and the Title IX complaint filed by Law firm Katz Marshall & Banks that was made towards the university in early May. Inside Higher Ed addresses the challenges college campuses face with anonymous social media platforms such as Yik Yak and asks, “Who should prevent social media harassment?” Author Josh Logue brings up events from UMW, highlighting the troubles that the institution faced over the course of Spring 2015 semester and the retaliations that have been made to further note these problems. Both these articles discuss UMW and the non-routine collective action of students towards the administration. They are fighting for the distinction of where the “line” is as well as prevention tactics to be made and how the responses are handled.
A follow up letter to the U.S. Department of Education pressed for federal guidelines and restrictions towards anonymous social media attacks and threats. Those guidelines would include, “investigating all reports of online harassment, including those that are anonymous…conducting mandatory training or intervention programs for faculty, staff, and students” (Estes 2015), and many more. The letter also notes that implementing these guidelines would contribute to the progression for women’s equality as well as civil rights. This push makes sense, considering the harsh threats towards Feminist United on Campus made on Yik Yak just kept happening. Because the threats were anonymous, finding out where or whom they were coming from became another challenging task to assemble. Feeling as though nothing was being done very much contributed to FUC’s exhaustion and frustration of slow and delayed university response or handle on the matters. Their non-routine collective action resulted in a news conference held outside of George Washington Hall hosted by FUC and the Feminist Majority Foundation, who filed the complaint. Although this organization has gathered for routine actions before, this conference would be considered non-routine and acting out. The university was not aware of this public conference, and in result, President Rick Hurley responded with a stern letter addressing the misinformation the FMF had been spreading based on the social media threats.
Social media has become “the new frontier of unlawful conduct” (Debra Katz in Logue, 2015). The seriousness of these anonymous apps fostered a very tense environment amongst the UMW student body and created a baseline for the non-routine collective action taken by FUC and FMF. According to Logue, “banning these anonymous apps or having the universities themselves monitor them is probably a bad idea” (Logue, 2015). UMW would be a difficult place to keep up with the monitoring, because it becomes more noticeable of the restrictions that are placed on campus. This would become more of a target and reason to try to break down and lash back at this method. It is essentially asking the university to “control things that are out of their control” (Logue, 2015). This lack of control is definitely noticed, which also contributes to the actions taken towards the issues at hand. Emotions such as exhaustion and desperation are executed through FUC and FMF’s non-routine actions, and they use social media’s results on campus to speak and act out towards the overall emotions being felt. The use of social media on UMW’s campus is what specifically drove the action taken considering the Title XI complaint filed, and these measures indicate that an active organization on campus needs their voices to be heard and listened to. The response from UMW’s president to this unplanned conference also indicates that there is some lack of unification between the student body and administrative community when it comes to social media platforms.
These two articles tie together FUC’s drive for action created by something that is so heavily relied on by everyone in the campus community. Like stated before, there really is no control when it comes to monitoring anonymous social media use, and this flows into the non-routine collective actions being taken amongst these issues.
Estes, Lindley. 2015. “Women’s, civil rights groups urge federal guidelines for anonymous social media threats.” The Free Lance Star, October 21.
Logue, Josh. 2015. “Who Should Prevent Social Media Harassment.” Inside Higher Ed, October 22.