Thursday, December 16, 2010

Taking a Hammer to a Mosquito

When dealing with students, it is usually better not to overreact. Although this is true all year long, it is especially true during final exams, when tension levels rise. Right now, my library is literally packed with students, and it is becoming difficult to find a place to study. The staff is endeavoring to ensure that burned-out lightbulbs are replaced in a timely fashion and that the building is a comfortable temperature at all times. We try to remain calm when responding to complaints brought to us by students, but at times it is difficult. An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education made me think about ways that law school administrators interact with students.

The article describes a satirical blog, SUCOLitis, which aims "to be something like The Onion of law-school life." Focusing on Syracuse University College of Law, the blog features "fake headlines about beer pong, third-year students serving burritos, and the election of the university's 'sexiest Semite.' It delights in attributing fake quotes to students and faculty, as well as to famous alumni ... " I think that my reaction to the blog would have been to ignore it, but Syracuse took a different approach. "The law school has threatened 'harassment' charges against a student who is allegedly a writer for the anonymous blog." The student, Len Audaer, is being investigated, but Syracuse refuses to give him any information about the charges against him unless he signs a gag order. This information comes from a press release issued by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), an organization "known for its efforts to stop campus officials from restricting the free-speech rights of students and faculty members." The blog, which is on WordPress, was made private last week, and readers have to access it using secure accounts. More information about the controversy appears here. Coming down hard on the student blog author has generated the kind of negative attention that most law schools try to avoid.

No comments: