Our View: Don’t succumb to the ‘Mean Girl’ mentality

DKS Editors

It’s not often we see a problem with free speech. After all, we exercise our right to free speech every day in these 500-word editorials.

But there’s a new portal for free speech in town that goes beyond the call of duty of the First Amendment: JuicyCampus, the self-proclaimed “juiciest” destination online for college gossip. JuicyCampus allows anyone to anonymously post comments about people whether they’re fact or fiction.

Basically, it’s a glorified bathroom wall or slam book. Think “Mean Girls” in cyberspace.

JuicyCampus added Kent State to its hit list Sept. 2, joining 481 other colleges to date since the site’s debut one year ago. Since then, more than 10 people have posted comments on Kent State’s page, a couple dozen people have responded and hundreds of others have viewed the comments.

The Duke University page on JuicyCampus, however, contains 18 pages worth of gossip within the last month – or in other words, too many posts, comments and views to count.

We’re relieved to see Kent State students haven’t swarmed the site yet to make erroneous claims about fellow students or professors. Still, even the comparably minimal comments on Kent State’s page are appalling.

JuicyCampus mirrors the types of cruelty that exist in high school locker rooms and hallways. It perpetuates petty hate speech, which goes against the purpose of a higher education. We go to college to develop a higher level of thinking, and in turn, foster a greater sense of acceptance in the community. It’s the means to the end of attaining a job post-graduation.

If you’re here for other reasons, perhaps it’s time to rethink your life plan. While you’re at it, re-evaluate your morals and ethics. We don’t care whether you’re a devout Christian, Jew, Muslim or atheist: We can all understand the difference between right and wrong.

JuicyCampus has the power to destroy people’s self-esteem, in addition to ruining their day and cultivating a false reputation about them. Sure, some people might not be offended by the derogatory information posted about them. But others will be offended and hurt – and that’s reason enough to avoid the site.

One Yale student who was linked to a pornographic movie on JuicyCampus said he became panicked and upset when he discovered the post after a friend told him about it. Another student at Baylor University recalled crying after being called the “biggest slut” on campus, according to a March 2008 article in the International Herald Tribune.

What greater good does this Web site serve? We mulled it over and tried to think beyond the obvious negatives. Still, we could not find a single thread of redeeming value in JuicyCampus.

Forget blocking or banning the Web site. Freedom of speech warrants its existence. But that does not mean we have to flock to the site every day for our daily dose of humor and amusement.

Show some class, Kent State. Boycott JuicyCampus.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.