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Inappropriate Social Media Activity Results in Revoked Admissions

Kristina McNamara
Staff Writer

Over the past two years, over 20 students have had their admissions withdrawn as a result of inappropriate Facebook posts. The Office of Admissions is randomly checking the social media pages of incoming students to look for this unacceptable behavior.

“We have denied more than several applications based upon what I would consider racial, sexual and inappropriate actions. I don’t want them here,” said Dr. Richard Wylie, President of Endicott College.

According to Wylie, the Office of Admissions has developed a practice of looking at social media profiles and evaluating acts of bad judgment. When a potential Endicott student makes a post containing sensitive material, admissions acts upon it in one of three ways.

According to Wylie, the post is either not bad enough for the school to act on it, severe enough that the student’s acceptance is pulled, or The Office of Admissions asks the student to come in and have a conversation. “Sometimes parents don’t know what their children are doing,” said Wylie. “We need to set a good example.”

According to Thomas Redman, Vice President of Admission and Financial Aid, the college does not routinely monitor social media unless something comes to their attention. However, it says in Endicott’s “Social Networking Statement” that when posting information on the Internet, the student is responsible for those statements and any consequences that arise.

“Students are not impacted unless information comes to our attention,” said Redman. “However, a growing number of colleges are spending more time exploring students’ social media activities prior to making an admission decision. Students should be very cautious about the impact of inappropriate information on social media sites, not just for admission to college, but for their careers.”

“Some colleges are checking everything and I have trouble with that,” said Doctor Wylie. “I have trouble because if we haven’t set the right standard in high school, and families haven’t done it, then how do we change behaviors if we just ignore them?” Wylie is now trying to change behaviors by showing these students the potential consequences, even if it means pulling back admissions.

According to Wylie, it is more of a random sample, rather than a highly structured system. The Office of Admissions plans to leave it at that. “Values and self respect have declined so much that it concerns me,” said Wylie “What is not acceptable to my generation is acceptable to yours. I have to look for abusers and people who threaten the integrity of the school.”

If the student does not show self-respect on his or her Facebook page, that is enough for admissions to move on to the next application.

According to Wylie, there is software that tracks every post on social media, even if it is deleted. Over 70% of all business are tracking employees using this software.  “As adults, we need to set the right standards,” he said.

Assistant Professor of Communications, Dr. Randall Livingstone believes that lessons of what social media is and how it represents people should be a part of the junior high and high school curriculum. “I think the use of social media has called into question the public face that everyone puts forward, not just college applicants. Everyone needs to realize the public nature of most of their online actions, and this needs to be worked into teens' media literacy early and often,” Livingstone said.

According to Dr. Livingstone, most young social media users do not think about the potential after-effects of what they post. “If I felt that most social media users think through their social media use beyond initial impulses, it would be one thing.  But I don't,” said Livingstone. “I don't think most young users think through how their social media looks to an audience beyond their immediate peer group, and I am extremely hesitant to connect impulsive use of media to ingrained morals.”

According to Wylie, a high school principal called him and accused him of invading the privacy of students. Doc Wylie responded to him and said, “I think it’s a great lesson for you to use when students lose their opportunities. It’s a teachable moment.”

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