Tag Archives: twitter

Don’t Judge a (Face)book By Its Cover

Welcome to the first of the Myths of Residence Life Series! This post was actually written BEFORE the idea for the series came about…but I realized it fit so well! Incoming students have the ability to see YEARS of their future classmates’ lives on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and whatever else social media platform that’s out there.

So I might be dating myself here, but I was in college when Facebook became open to everybody. I didn’t think too much of it. The only change for me was now I could be Facebook friends with my friends that were still in high school (I mean, I wasn’t that old).

And then housing assignments were released…I was working at my good ol’ Undergrad U student employment job. I was told that typically we get slightly more phone calls after assignments go out. People are unhappy with what building they are in or what floor they are on. Somebody’s precious darling has allergies and needs air conditioning. Typical calls. The calls started coming that very day and did not stop until the school year started. My supervisor said that she had NEVER heard the phones ring that much.

Why the incredible increase in calls? Students could now look up their roommates on Facebook. That was something I honestly never thought of. Yes, Facebook existed before I left for college, but my roommate didn’t (and still doesn’t) have Facebook. For the friends I did make on Facebook, all of our profiles were NEW. While this was only the first year, that’s still a whole year’s worth of photos. We’re currently several years past this point so now my incoming students are seeing photos of their future roommate’s high school career. Ugh…I couldn’t imagine having those awkward years documented on the internet.

The point is, so many students were making assumptions about their future roommates based on what they saw on Facebook. People use their Facebooks (and before that MySpaces) to display who they want the world to view them as. Back when all these phone calls were flooding in, people didn’t think about privacy settings on their pictures or censor themselves just in case a future employer might stumble across their profiles one day. Some students were calling to complain that they didn’t want to live with their future roommates because all they saw on Facebook were party pics or offensive jokes. Others were calling because their roommate seemed “lame” or “different”. It is impossible to describe what a person is like based off of what you see on Facebook.

While my roommate and I didn’t have the anxiety-laden opportunity of stalking each other on Facebook prior to moving in together, I wonder what a stranger would think of me based off of my Facebook profile. I have my profile set to super secret, so the stranger would have to request me first but that’s beside the point.

First off, we have my cover photo and profile picture. These tend to be absolutely ridiculous. In fact, when I first arrived at college, my Facebook picture was one of my comics. Oops. Right now my current cover photo is a close up of my favorite food and my profile picture is actually a poorly photoshopped photo of one of my friends. So at the moment random stranger would probably think I’m a fat man (not that my friend is fat…just the food and all).

Next, my “about” info. My main network is Hogwarts and my relationship status lists me as being in a relationship with one of my lady friends. My quotes and “info paragraph” haven’t been changed since 2008 and are just a listing of inside jokes. The only musicians I like are my friends bands or singing groups. I don’t have any books, movies, or TV shows listed, but at the moment Facebook is recommending kids books and movies…

And last but not least, photos of me. Since that’s where 99% of my students complaints come from. There are a LOT of pictures of me with my friends’ pets. Not too many party pics…but several photo bomb pictures. And lots of sorority pictures. Of course. Sorority squat!

I don’t think any of that accurately describes me. I don’t use Facebook to list every like and dislike and chronicle every moment of my day. Sorority pictures are in there a lot because those are a lot of the big events I go to…and that’s where the cameras are. At the same time, when I think about students “cleaning up” their Facebooks before they begin their job searches (or before applying for college housing), I don’t think the “after” version of their profiles represent them either.

It’s been a few years since I heard from those angry parents at Undergrad U. I’m still hearing from angry parents. They’re checking out their kid’s roommate’s Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. “He tweeted rap lyrics, my son doesn’t like rap, MY SON CAN’T LIVE WITH HIM!” I wish I was making this up. Now that I’m no longer a student, I’ve started telling parents that we will not change a room assignment just based on something they saw on Facebook. The whole idea of college is to figure out how to live on your own. If there are major issues or lifestyle differences that cannot be worked out once the students have arrived at school and given it the ol’ college try (pun intended), then we will look into finding your precious anti-rap darling a new place to live.

Student affairs professionals of the world…what are some of your most bizarre “well I saw it on the internet” moments you’ve experienced?

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Social Media Concerns

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have my job before the days of social media. While I enjoy it for personal use, it honestly can make some days turn into a major headache once I get complaints of students using Facebook or Twitter to bully one another or to post pictures of things that they shouldn’t have in their rooms or apartments (yes, we do see your party pictures). I imagine that before Facebook, students shared pictures the same way they shared them when I was in middle school – getting them developed and passing the envelope around. Also, I know that before I had a digital camera, I took WAYYYY less pictures because it was so expensive!

I already mentioned that students posting pictures of inappropriate activities can get them in trouble. I had friends get in trouble for this my first year at Undergrad U. They had been drinking one night in their room with a few friends and took some pictures and of course posted them on Facebook and I believe somebody reported them to a Residence Life Professional so then of course they got in trouble. I’ve had other instances of students or friends posting about things in their room (street signs, pets) and get in trouble for that as well.

A more recent phenomenon has been these “Confessions” pages. Undergrad U has had a pretty active page for a month or two now, usually filled with things like “I think my RA is hot” or “I had sex in the library/locker room/bathroom/etc”. Most of the time these are harmless, but other times students talk about hurting themselves or others and we have no way to find out who posted it.

Students definitely don’t understand the consequences of posting certain things online. With Facebook, the things you posted are most certainly linked with your real name. Trust me, it’s not fun to have to go through years of pictures and un-tag or delete inappropriate photos. It’s even worse when you have message people you haven’t talked to in ages asking them to take down their photos they may have posted of you. I didn’t have a Facebook until I was in college, but some of these students have had Facebook since they were thirteen…that’s going to be a LOT of Facebook digging their senior year!

Now, it’s not like I go creeping on the internet looking for my students’ Facebook and Twitter accounts trying to get them in trouble. Trust me, I don’t want to see this stuff. The less I know, the better! But if we are made aware of something, we have to chat with the student about it. I usually hear a lot of, “I had no idea you could see that!”

Another issue that has been happening with Residence Life (and it’s something that started happening while I was still a student) is that after receiving their roommate assignment, a student will go look up his or her new roomie on Facebook. Sometimes, the parent does this. And then all hell breaks loose. “My child cannot live with this heathen! They have PARTY pictures on Facebook!” While Facebook can be great for roommates and other incoming students to get to know each other, it becomes a problem when a student uses Facebook to “play up” one aspect of his or her life.

What are some issues that social media has created at your job? How do you work with students on addressing social media concerns?

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Help Me, I’m Poor

One of the things I enjoy most about working in student affairs is that everybody wants you to keep growing and learning. Every school I’ve worked at has had a professional development fund, but they’ve varied in size from place to place. Some schools want you to go to every single conference, no matter how far, and they will buy you every single book you want. Others force you to make choices.

Being at a small school, I’m in the latter category. While sometimes it sucks to hear my friends saying things like, “Gosh, I can’t decide between NASPA and ACPA”, I’m happy that I am doing less as a new professional with the hopes of that when I advance I will have more opportunities. Besides, if my office is down anybody for a week, that puts a lot on the people who stay behind.

Earlier this year I was able to attend two regional conferences. I am definitely not heading to Orlando or Vegas this year, but I do hope to attend some more local conferences. Why are local conferences awesome? Well, first off it cuts down on costs for you and/or your office since you probably don’t have to fly there and, if you’re real lucky, it might be close enough that you don’t have to stay in a hotel. Also, all the other attendees of a region-based conference live and work somewhere near you. It’s a great way to make connections with colleagues at other schools. I did meet a bunch of people at one of the conferences I went to…but I also suck at keeping in touch. Since it is one of my 2013 goals, I think I might reach out to them. Sometime. Soon. Ish.

But Author, my office doesn’t even have enough money to send me to a local conference! It’s okay. You don’t NEED to go to a conference. You can connect with other professionals in many ways. The internet is an AMAZING thing, especially social media. Yes, Facebook and Twitter can be big time wasters, but they can also help you professionally. Every week there is a discussion about some student affairs topic using the hashtag #SAChat. It usually happens at a designated time, but you can post anything at any time with that hashtag and people will still see it. I know there is also a #GreekChat one. If you know any others, leave them in the comments!

Blogging has also been a great way to get in contact with other student affairs professionals. I honestly don’t know why I chose WordPress over Blogger or any other service, but one think I really like is the ability to follow “topics” on your reader page. I can click on “Student Affairs” or “Higher Ed” and read about all sorts of things and find new blogs to follow. I also have some other topics on there, like “Organization”.

If you want to go all old school, you can do what people used to do forty years ago – get a book! (Although now you’d probably order it off Amazon…) If there is something you are interested in learning more about, look online for books about the topic. I have a running list of books I want to read (another 2013 goal) and all I have to do is find them…and find the time to read them. You might not even have to purchase the book. Check your school’s library or interlibrary loan options. If you do have to purchase a book, ask your supervisor if it is something professional development funds can be used for. A book is not a huge expense and depending on the topic, it might be something the whole office can use.

One last thing – don’t be afraid to ask! You never know what your supervisor might say yes to. If you feel your department’s professional development funds are rather limited, you can tell your supervisor that you feel _____ opportunity would be really beneficial and try to budget for it at a later time.

In the comments, leave your favorite hashtags/chats, books, blogs, and conferences!

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#SAChat Book Club

Last month, the Student Affairs Collaborative announced the first and second book for the Summer 2012 #SAChat Book Club. As I have mentioned previously, I like reading and now that I’m not being forced to read by professors, I’m excited to read books that interest me. Reading books is definitely a form of professional development and the type I can afford! So I decided I’m going to participate in this book club.

The first book was The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest Universityby Kevin Roose. The discussion was planned for a little over a week after I read the announcement, so I quickly downloaded it onto my nook. I’ll write more about the book itself next week. I was so eager to participate in the chat after I finished it. There were two scheduled. I unfortunately slept through the first one and then Twitter was down when the second one was supposed to happen. The second book is Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink. I’m currently waiting for it to arrive through my college’s inter-library loan system. I’m hoping it comes soon, as the discussion for it is next week!

I’ve been participating in #greekchat and #SAChat each week. I’ve mostly been watching and learning, but it is interesting to see different perspectives from different institutions. It’s something I plan to keep on my calendar for the school year. You can find me on twitter @collegeforeverr. Leave your twitter name in the comments so I can follow more student affairs-minded people!

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