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University forum addresses online bullying

Nicholas Knoske

Issue date: 11/12/10 Section: News
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In response to the recent online bullying and its resultant suicide at Rutgers, Case Western Reserve University's Share the Vision committee sponsored an open forum last Thurs., Nov. 4, to address issues of harassment, privacy, and anonymity on the Internet. Extensive discussion was led by panelists that included representatives from student affairs, information technology operations, the university attorney's office, and the student body.

The forum, attended by faculty and students, served as a means for the university both to address concerns regarding online relations and to educate attendees on the legal and ethical implications of employing technology to bully other people anonymously.

"The anonymity of the Internet is just so dangerous," said Shannon French, the Inamori Professor of Ethics and forum moderator. "People are emboldened by anonymity."

Recounting her time in grade school, French noted that she still remembers the face and name of a girl who bullied her. In a strange way, she said, this identifying information humanizes the bully. And it does likewise with the victim, meaning that face-to-face bullying is likely to be less vicious (and less frequent) than its online variant today.

Panelist Joel Kraft, director of CWRU's IT operations group, contended that anonymous communication can be "useful" as when an individual seeks important but personally embarrassing information on the Internet. Careful to avoid placing blame on anonymity, Kraft also acknowledged the minor annoyances he's noticed while browsing the Case Forum, often caused by anonymous and disrespectful students.

Case Forum is moderated, however; though it tolerates profanity and the occasional rude response, it is able to efficiently remove personal attacks or particularly unhelpful information. This puts it in contrast with other communication media like Facebook and Twitter, social networking sites where forms of bullying can manifest very publicly (although less anonymously) in unmoderated modes of discourse.
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Issue Summary

News

  • A conversation with Divya Aggerwal
  • Adiós, Four Loko
  • Faculty Forum addresses questions surrounding core curriculum
  • International student programs make strides, issues remain
  • USG Brief

Sports

  • Football thumps Tartans on senior day, win Academic Bowl
  • Men drown competition, win Veale classic; women split
  • Men seeded second in UAA, eye historic season
  • Spartan women third, men seventh at NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional
  • Spartans drop first dual meet against Baldwin-Wallace
  • Volleyball returns home from their first NCAA Championship satisfied and yearning for more
  • Women to improve winning season, sixth-place finish

Opinion

  • Editorial: Unwilling to think beyond the possible
  • Leading by examples: bullying starts - and ends - with parents
  • Letter to the Editor
  • Whores no more: the case for legalizing prostitution

Focus

  • Atlantic/Pacific
  • CARES hosts vegan feast, panel in hopes of debunking myths, addressing concerns
  • Documentary Inside Job a frightening account of current financial crisis
  • Gold Motel speaks on album, artistic processes
  • Music department caps semester with variety of concerts
  • Pizza! Pizza!
  • Sigma Psi to create "magic" with 32nd Mr. CWRU
  • Students blur gender lines in eighth annual Drag Ball
  • The rules of attraction
  • Who's wearing the pants?
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