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In
a world run by ever-changing technological advances, an individual’s personal
life essentially becomes an open book. These networks interest us, educate us,
and virtually connect us. While the concept of sharing your life with others
seems like an appealing idea, in recent years it seems as if people are losing
touch of what may or may not be moral and are paying the detrimental effect of
their virtual actions. Social media has become more important than one realizes
when it comes to the manner of an education institution. So at what point do
institutions define the fine line between what is acceptable and not acceptable,
and who do we associate these regulations with?

            First, it is important that we
distinguish the rational of equality among all students. Regardless of if you
are a student athlete, exchange student, or just an average college student, I
believe all students must abide to the good-governing instructional bylaws a
university upholds. Understanding these mandates lead as a guide towards the
representation of an institution as a whole, illustrates contextual standards,
language, and background of established rights that should be understood prior
to one’s commitment to a university. It is a privilege to attend a higher
education institution of any sort, therefore, a sought forth guide of ethics
shall pertain to each individual in regards to their consequences.

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            In the broad aspect, what do we
define as “offensive” in regards to today’s day and age? Perhaps it is the act
of targeting a minority group, publicizing underage drinking, or sharing highly
offensive images. According to the Establishment Clause implications, we have
the exercise of freedom of speech and expression stating; “Congress shall make no law respecting
an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech.”, in essence an individual has the right to
express their opinion, however to what extent do we define a limitation? The
epidemiology of social media networks shares a wealth of information that has
greatly impacted the educational systems and specifically the students
committed to them, therefore they shall suffer the ramifications for highly
offensive or even illegal acts.

            There seems to be a Gray-area on as
to who we can punish, and why we shall punish them (i.e. student athletes vs.
normal university students), and much of this has to do with today’s built-upon
social structure and lenience we have on peoples “sensitivity”. Essentially, we
can bend laws to ease someone’s feelings and use laws against certain people to
inflict moral punishment, however it is up to the University, whether private
or public, to be a moral compass of a student’s sanction.

 For instance, if a student does in fact pose a
threat towards others or is deliberately posing a concern to the University, then
they shall get off with a warning handled internally by the institution’s Dean
of Students and a sanction of disciplinary probation can be set into
place.  In regards to student athletes, I
believe the Athletic Program should have a say as well, as most student
athletes are more publically paid attention to and serve as leaders. By doing
so, this allows a student to become aware of, and hopefully accept their
behavior, in hopes to change it for the betterment of themselves and the
representation of the student body. If continued behavior worsens or occurs
than they shall receive harsher sanctions of a prolonged probation or perhaps even
suspension.

            Moving onto a broader picture, should
Universities have to remind their students that their social media activity on
and off campus can lead to severe consequences or do we strictly lay out specific
rules that students should know to abide to? Although given First Amendment
rights, in recent years’ students have historically proven that even when
off-campus, their speech is fouling beyond their First Amendment rights, which essentially
causes a substantial disruption to the University.  An establishment of punishment pertains to
everyone both in college and the real-world. There shall be a zero-tolerance
policy for inappropriate behavior that degrades a universities image that
places fellow students at high-risk or feeling as if they are attacked.

            We live in a free country; however,
it is a privilege to do so. By living in the United States of America we have
rules to follow, minors and adults included. Let’s put into perspective the
concept of “learners today” and “leader’s tomorrow”, this instills obedience and
responsibility in adolescents, soon to-be adults. Date back to twenty, even thirty years ago, social media
or networking sites of such was not pertinent aspect in society. Thus society
had a laissez faire mind-set when it
came to borderline publicized issues, if not physically seen, it was a word of
mouth. Regardless of if questionable acts are posted online, or even expressed
in person, University students are the future of generations to come and need
to serve as leaders.

 

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