Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It Can (And Will) Be Worse

Ah fall.  The leaves.  The colors.  The insane schedules of events.  Sorry to be away, but projects have a way of soaking up energy and time.

Nevertheless, the great faux pas of Facebook roll on.  While we have survived our own trying start to the semester courtesy of a new student records system (lots of one-on-one relationship work there), it can, and will, be worse.

Consider the dilemma of Green Mountain College in Vermont.  A private school that has a strong sustainable footprint mission.  Including making full use of the livestock.  As in putting down old Ox when the time comes, and turning it into, well, what you do on the farm.

But in this case, the ox comes with a name, Lou, and even after the student referendum of how best to take Lou's fate -- the vote was for fulfilling the mission of sustainable farm management -- imagine the feedback.  Kudos to Kevin Coburn, the director of communications for GMC, for fostering a transparent process, including lengthy posts on their Facebook and not (one assumes within the reasons of good taste, language and decency) squelching the commentary.

Here's a small liberal arts institution with just under 3,000 likes but a current traffic of almost 1,000 discussing the end of Lou's career.  Takes some commitment to that transparency and a willingness to engage the students to stand up to that social media microscope (might seem like a proctoscope) at times.

WEDNESDAY PM ADDITION:  The Chronicle of Higher Ed weighs in with a nice background look.

Just to show it's at both ends of the spectrum, our colleagues to the south at LSU -- close to three-quarters of a million like -- are working through a controversy of photoshopping photos of student groups that had body painted crosses at a recent football game.  Same type of passionate opinions, and after their less than rapid early response to the September bomb threat on social media, we'd be curious to see the reaction.  Kudos there as well as once the issue became apparent, the LSU team cross posted the student opinion and sought to be more open regarding the changing of the photos.  That honesty is limiting what could be a pretty nasty exchange.

WEDNESDAY AM ADDITION: A tip of the cap to Chris Syme for adding this link from ABC News which gives you a look at the photo and other overview of the decision.

So whether you're big or small, there are social media constants:  Be open.  Be transparent.  Tell the truth.

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