The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Squeezing the juice out of

Senators discuss how to deal with gossip website is too juicy for some.

Student senators discussed the website at their meeting to determine if any action could be taken against it. The website was discussed at the request of the University, according to Student Body Vice President Patrick Kobler, who was filling in for Student Body President Rob Hayden.

The gossip website first came to SMU last year. It allows users to post messages on the site, maintaining that all comments on the website will be completely anonymous.

According to its privacy policy, the website gathers “information on internet protocol (IP) addresses, browser type, internet service provider, referring/exit pages, operating system, date/time stamp and clickstream data.”

However, the site says the information it gathers does not identify individual users. It also suggests that users who are worried about such information could use an IP cloaking service.

Although it says it does not gather identifiable information, the website does include a disclaimer stating, “We reserve the right to disclose your personally identifiable information and/or non-personally identifiable information as required by law and when we believe that disclosure is necessary to protect our rights and/or to comply with a judicial proceeding, court order, or legal process served on our Web site.”

Posts on the website vary in topic, but are often about a specific individual. Many users on the site use the forum to talk badly about others. This has caused many concerns.

“Our school, for some reason, is by far the most vicious,” Kobler said, noting SMU’s presence on the site. “It’s gotten more and more vicious.”

Senate discussed the website last year, but could not find a lasting solution. Kobler mentioned several options that students and the University could take, such as blocking the site on PerunaNet, spamming the site with ‘nice’ comments, boycotting the advertisers on the site and using the site as a medium for campus event announcements.

Kobler said he doesn’t believe in censorship, and he doesn’t believe the website should be shut down. However, anyone who posts something bad about another person on the website anonymously is a “coward.”

Sen. Marc Bullock and Sen. Ryan Pitts spoke with officials from Information Technology Services last year when the issue was brought up. Bullock recalled the metaphor of a “slippery slope,” saying if ITS blocked JuicyCampus, it could lead to the blocking of other sites such as Facebook.

For others such as Sen. Sarah Acosta, censorship might be warranted.

Acosta cited an incident that took place last year when a campus alert was distributed about a sexual assault at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house. Charges were not filed against the alleged SAE member, but the woman who reported it to police was publicly outed on the website.

“She was exposed,” she said. “That just really upset me.”

Acosta said this “should not have happened.” In addition, Acosta fears that this might discourage others from reporting sexual assaults for fear of being exposed.

Sen. John Jose agreed that incidences such as these should take precedence over the gossip that makes up most of the site.

There have been two campus alerts of sexual assault distributed since then, each discussed on the site. However, neither the students who reported the assaults nor those accused have been named.

Sen. Whitney Stenger said it would be hard to censor the site. She also noted it “seems like the problem is in the Greek community,” suggesting Senate could discuss the matter with the Panhellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council.

Kobler mentioned the possibility of legislation to try to combat the site, but said “at the end of the day, it’s something we have to change within ourselves.”

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