Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dental School Blogger Issue Crosses the Atlantic

From an online discussion forum run by the Graduate Union at Cambridge University.

The subject is changes in the Graduate Union’s polity as to posting on the discussion board, and particularly the policy of identifying posters by name:
But it’s not just other users they’re being identified — it’s the whole world — now and in the future — and that includes university administrators and staff — some of whom — as we have seen with the Graduate Tutor’s committee and their recent consultation — are on a completely different planet than the rest of the university / nation when it comes to anything on the internet.

In the US recently there was a case of a dental student being suspended from their university for making comments online about fellow students that are much milder than those which have been made about the university and various students on this forum:

http://mu-warrior.blogspot.com/2005/12/marquette-dental-student-suspended.html

That could well happen in Cambridge — perhaps more easily so in Cambridge.

I think that there is something to fear — and those currently able to raise and discuss problems with the various aspects of the university here will not be able to when the new rules are in place - unless they write such comments in a fashion which means they’ll be accepted in the Applying forum.
On the one hand, one might say it speaks well for Marquette that students at Cambridge have the same sort of worries about online free speech. We’d prefer to say it speaks badly for Cambridge.

But also note that the poster at Cambridge characterizes the Dental blogger’s posts as “comments online about fellow students that are much milder than those which have been made about the university and various students on this forum.”

Check the domain name of the forum: gradunion.cam.ac.uk. It’s an official Cambridge University web page.

It certainly sounds familiar to hear that certain administrators are “on a completely different planet than the rest of the university / nation when it comes to anything on the internet.”

So we have to admit that Marquette isn’t the only university with administrators who are clueless and obtuse where Internet issues are concerned.

But we can do better. We should do better. Some Marquette administrators do do better.

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