In the few days since the University of Illinois made headlines for students complaining about having to go to school in the cold, there has been little public response from the university, particularly regarding what might happen to some of those students that posted all the negative things on Twitter and other forms of social media. I may be a crotchety old graduate student, but something needs to happen to those that made the most egregious tweets, even if it is just bringing them up before a disciplinary board with the threat of expulsion or other punishment. I’d gladly redirect some of the $50,000 I paid in tuition for the school to identify some of these students that painted the school in a negative light.
That said, the only “public” reaction that I have seen is three separate mass e-mails from various “leadership” on campus, mainly asking the student body to be civil in their discourse and to stop giving the university such a bad image, the things you would expect someone doing spin control to say.
Asking me to “reconfirm my commitment” to the values of the university is fine and dandy, and I guess they plan on using this as a tool to show that the vast majority of the students on campus are actually good kids and don’t really mean all those hurtful things they typed into Twitter on Sunday and Monday night. However, I don’t think this enough, and I have actually reached out to a few of the folks that sent these e-mail in hopes that something will be done to prevent the good name of the University of Illinois from being besmirched in the future.
Below is the email that I sent, and I am publishing it here in hopes that maybe some of my fellow students will send similar missives to the folks drafting these mass e-mails and see that we actually want to protect the image of the university. One way to do this, of course, is to actually show those in the wrong that actions have consequence.
To: Damani Bolden (Student Body President)
Cc: Christopher G. Kennedy (Chairmen of the Board of Trustees); Robert A. Easter (President, University of Illinois)
Subject: Civility and Respect Emails
Is there going to be any retribution towards the students that caused all this controversy, or is the university just going to send out mass e-mails to everyone and hope that handles the situation? There should be some kind of punishment for the most egregious offenders so that others will see that this type of behavior isn’t actually tolerated instead of simply given lip service by the university.
Stating you stand by the chancellor is one thing; taking actions to prove it is entirely another thing. If nothing is done, it just establishes that the university and its leadership will simply send out some harshly worded e-mails as punishment. There are numerous students who made veiled threats to Chancellor Wise and others on a social platform, and those students should at least be called in to show that words and actions have consequences.
Maybe doing this will actually ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again, which will keep the U of I out of the national headlines for negative reasons.
I am just one student, but it only took one student to start the offending hashtag on Twitter or to start the petition, so maybe something will come of mt e-mail, or maybe it will just end up unread in someone’s overflowing inbox.
Until next time…
2 thoughts on “Something Should Happen”
As offensive as the comments were, they are protected free speech via media not affiliated with the university so, legally, I’m not sure the university has any disciplinary power. Should they? Probably not because free speech is protected no matter howuch everyone disagrees.
That seems to be the University’s official response, and on further research, it seems to be the right one. Maybe the Inclusive Illinois forum they are having next week will help people understand, but probably not. This will all be forgotten in a month, so I guess it ultimately doesn’t matter.