Campus News

Don’t talk back on Yik-Yak

 -  -  38

Bethel College has recently received bad publicity via an app called Yik-Yak. Yik-Yak, which works the same as an “anonymous Twitter,” is a feed of unidentifiable posts that can be read by users within a 1.5 mile region. “When I first got the app, there were maybe 12 posts about Bethel College,” said Upper-class Student Body President A.J. Reynolds, who was elected to the current Student Council (StuCo). “But in the last three weeks it got incredibly negative.” Reynolds said he deleted the app because he did not appreciate all of the negativity. Reynolds explained that Yik-Yak has fallen under scrutiny from school administration as a result of “Yaks” which suggested things happening that violate Bethel’s community covenant. The covenant is a set of rules that all students and faculty must agree to abide by during their time at Bethel. According to Reynolds, a resident assistant had posted on the network that a large number of the students in their dorm had attended a party. According to Reynolds, the post suggested the resident assistant knew the students had consumed alcohol and had become intoxicated, but was not going to report them and even wished he or she could participate in such behaviors and activities. “The anonymity of the entire situation prevents your name from going along with your Yak,” said Reynolds. “So it’s just a general post. You can’t know who it is, and in reality, you don’t know if it’s true or false.” Some Yaks, according to Reynolds, included issues such as students claiming to have alcohol in the dorms and others claiming to have performed oral sex in a parking lot. “Because of all of this negativity, the administration has started to track Yaks through the Wi-Fi,” said Reynolds. “And students have started to receive emails… we know that there are freshmen that received community service through an email… I know of two individuals who received community service (as a result of Yaks they had posted) and had some further investigation. This being said we don’t have any way of verifying this information. No student has come forward in person saying he or she has received disciplinary action, and due to this issue’s scrutiny I expect no student ever will.” Reynolds said that, to his knowledge based on what others have told him, students have so far only received community service hours in alcohol-related instances when further investigation indicated they had indeed possessed or consumed alcohol. “No direct information has come forward,” said Reynolds. “It is all secondhand or through the grapevine. And we can only take a student at his or her word or friends’ word. At this time no action about Yik-Yak is being taken up by any StuCo council to my knowledge, but individual councilmembers are monitoring the situation and listening to the frustrations of the students until further notice.” Other posts on the network have centered on negative feedback regarding chapel speakers. Reynolds said he believes the turning point occurred on Pilot Preview Day, a college visit day for high schoolers. “That day, Yik-Yak trended on this campus for a lot of reasons,” he said. “Things like, ‘Don’t actually go here, kids,’ just very negative posts. I think the one that had the most (up-votes) was ‘Congratulations Bethel on establishing National Lie to a High Schooler Day.’ It was just this intense negativity.” Reynolds said that Yik-Yak is primarily used by college-aged individuals but is also becoming more common among high school students. Student Life sent out an email to the student body on Friday, Nov. 7, 2014 to announce that the chapel scheduled for Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 would be an “Ask Anything” chapel. The Ask Anything chapel is typically held once a year and features a panel of faculty members who answer any questions submitted by students before or during chapel. All questions usually circulate around one topic. This year, the Ask Anything topic centered on living life in a technology-filled world; however, the panel did not include anyone from Bethel’s information technology department. The email sent to the students said to “think Internet, iPhone, iWatch, apps, texts, tweets, snaps, Yaks, Kiks, Tindr, Tumblr and, don't forget, TV.” During the chapel service, discussion moderator Josh Hartsell addressed the topic of Yik-Yak, stating that he had not heard any news of Bethel shutting down Yik-Yak, students receiving disciplinary action for using Yik-Yak or even Bethel’s ability to monitor the network. Hartsell serves as a resident director for the Oakwood-Slater residence hall. “However, when it asks for your GPS and tells you it’s storing your personal data when you download it, my guess is there are certain things that are trackable,” he said. “I know that they’ve even shut it down at elementary schools and high schools, so there is some level of monitoring. Whether Bethel’s doing it, I don’t believe they are.” While at this point there is still discussion in the Bethel community as to whether Bethel is indeed tracking the origins of Yik-Yak posts, Manges Resident Director Reed Lyons challenged students to use social media responsibly. “Who do you represent?” he asked. “Are you representing yourself? Are you representing Bethel? Are you representing Christ? … Do your part in maybe down-voting some of those things or just not participating.”
bookmark icon