By ANDY UNGER
Following controversial events last year, Yik Yak has received somewhat of a negative reputation on campus. It is known for being both a great application to keep up on the gossip around campus as well as a source of a cyber bullying.
Though the University received much scrutiny for allowing the application to work on campus, no changes have been made. However, there needs to be a major change implemented in how we deal with Yik Yak, although it is important to realize that the application is only part of the problem.
Individuals on and around campus need to learn to live peacefully with one another, in order to solve the fundamental problem that Yik Yak only serves to expose and perpetuate.
I first started noticing how much students rely on Yik Yak about three weeks into the semester. My boyfriend downloaded the app as a way to keep up with the gossip on campus. Obviously, I thought this sounded incredible, so I too downloaded the app. Within five minutes, I was embroiled in an argument with another user over whether two strange men telling a lone girl to come to their room at midnight, while she was outside, to smoke, was sexual harassment.
Even though the girl thanked me profusely for taking her side, the situation left me feeling sick to my stomach. I deleted the app almost immediately afterwards. Many people are aware of the negative and threatening comments that were directed toward group members of Feminist United last year, but our UMW campus is not alone in this fight against cyber-anonymous bullying.
At Colgate University, the Huffington Post reported, racist posts on Yik Yak led to widespread protests.While, similarly, at Kenyon College, the app was used to threaten sexual assault towards the women who worked at the campus’ Crozier House, their center for women.
Although many people support the idea that anonymity is a good thing, and that it allows for discussions we could not have otherwise, all it really does is take away the consequence of projecting offensive comments on others.
Nobody would post on Facebook that they were planning to rape or murder, but on Yik Yak, they do. Really, the only practical use for Yik Yak, in my own opinion and experience, is to call unknown people out on leaving their laundry in the dryer too long in the residence halls.
For me, there are only two alternatives that Yik Yak must consider.
First, the creators of Yik Yak, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, need to implement some sort of identification policy within the app. For although there is currently a reporting system within the app, it is not, in my opinion, nearly strong enough since it only gives a street address.
There is no specific time, in the terms given, when a person has gone too far and needs to be reported to the authorities; is it after they have been reported once? Five times? I believe this needs to be specified and the information made public about the change.
On the other hand, campuses could ban the app entirely. Although it might be seen as a violation of the First Amendment.
Honestly, there is no permanent solution to the problem of hateful words and actions. Either alternative just eradicates some of the problem.
The only real solution would be for everyone to learn to get along with one another, and to put away hateful urges towards people different than themselves. It looks like that is something that the students here are slowly working their way towards, and I am grateful.
But until we can all live peacefully with each other, we need to control the ways in which students communicate their frustrations.