SGA reps condemn gossip website

The House of Student Representatives unanimously passed a resolution encouraging the administration to campaign against the gossip website CollegeACB.com.

The resolution came in response to encouragement from administrators who wanted the sensitive issue to be addressed in some way by the Student Government Association, Student Body President Marlon Figueroa said.

“I want SGA to be the first ones to take action and discourage the use of this website because it definitely goes against what our mission statement is and what our core values are,” Figueroa said.

Figueroa compared the site to JuicyCampus.com, a now-defunct website where students could make anonymous posts about issues or people at their university or college.

Figueroa said he had already appointed Cabinet Executive Chief of Staff Kyle Cochran to monitor the site and report offensive comments. However, the reported posts were not being removed promptly and the amount of posts continued to grow, he said.

Cochran, a freshman business major and Neeley School of Business representative, said he created a free account to report comments that named specific individuals and organizations on campus.

Dalton Goodier, a sophomore English major and AddRan College representative, asked if starting a campus-wide campaign against the site was a good idea because of the possible backlash of increased use.

Figueroa said this was an original concern in bringing the issue before House, but that increased use of the site and the severity of the posts had continued to grow larger than anticipated.

Saman Sadeghi, a freshman political science major and AddRan College representative, submitted an amendment to include encouragement for banning the site from the university’s networks altogether, but it was voted down by 31 out of 36 votes.

Whitney Peters, a junior middle school education major and College of Education representative, said recent bullying and harassment stories in the news should indicate the severity of potential harm caused by these types of sites and a need to block CollegeACB.com entirely.

“If we are really adamant about preventing this and preventing the effects that it has on our students.blocking the website would be a very genuine way of helping stop it,” Peters said.

Despite the university’s status as a private institution, Figueroa discouraged the amendment to ban the site entirely in order to maintain students’ right to free speech.

Several representatives, including sophomore strategic communications major and College of Communication representative Garyn Goldston, also voiced concerns about the amendment, saying he feared it would allow administrators to block any website they choose.

I just think its really dangerous to do this (block the site),” Goldston said. “If we start here, where are we going to stop?”

The final resolution was amended to request the administration’s help in encouraging students to stay off the site and to conduct a legal study to permanently remove the university from the site, but not ban the site from the university’s networks.

Myra Mills, a senior music education major and Student Relations Committee chair, said that by writing the resolution in this way, SGA was entrusting the student body to make responsible decisions.

“This is us saying we trust the students to stay off of it and to come to their friends and come to their roommates and say ‘Hey, get off that website,'” Mills said.

Figueroa said the site had brought an extreme concern to the mental health of some students, forcing SGA to take action.

While the resolution will formally designate an SGA member to report libelous posts and will provide panel discussions to brainstorm possible solutions, Figueroa said its ultimate goal was to have the university removed from the site.