As I read the reactions on Twitter and blog posts by student affairs folks on the comments made on Yik Yak, random thoughts/questions came to mind. This post by Paul Gordon Brown provides a good collection of the reactions to this incident. A session was held at the conference to discuss the incident, and here are the tweets from the session. They may be wrong/right from your perspective, but here are some random thoughts that came to mind.

  • How much of the strong reactions against the Yik Yak posts are based on the need for validation/proof of the credibility of the student affairs profession? From time to time, I read the frustration of how those outside student affairs don’t seem to understand what we do, and that’s why we need to do a better job telling our stories. For some, is it about protecting the reputation of the student affairs profession?
  • When students make mistakes, some folks talk about these mistakes as teachable/learning moments and opportunities for growth. I think there’s a sense that students are still developing as people. What if we apply the same mindset to professionals? It’s not like we all become perfect individuals once we become professionals or when we get the letters after our names. No one is perfect, and the development process lasts a lifetime, me included.
  • Even before this Yik Yak controversy, I’ve heard of the topics of “hooking up” at conferences and participants using conferences as paid vacations. It’s not as if Yik Yak introduced these issues, but it just made them more public, and when I mean public, the whole internet to see.
  • With the topic of “hooking up,” I’ve also seen moral judgments on another person’s sexual activities (“slut shaming”) before Yik Yak, and I think there’s a sense that it’s happening here as well.
  • Even professionals must understand how to be good digital citizens -by understanding the pitfalls and opportunities provided by social media and how their participation (positive/negative) impacts themselves and their communities.
  • Not all comments were negative.
  • I can’t believe anyone would even post some of the comments I read. SMH.
  • How many of those comments came from student affairs attending the conference? Is there a chance that there are individuals who posted comments to further exploit the situation for fun or malicious intent?
  • I refrained from providing my reaction on Twitter as I wasn’t quite sure how it would be taken. I didn’t feel safe offering my opinions. Sometimes, Twitter isn’t always the best place to have productive conversations, even in a community that promotes itself as being open to conflicting ideas.

I’m also reminded of a conversation I had with a student on one benefit of Yik Yak. I asked this student about social media and how students view and use social media. We came to the topic of Yik Yak. She responded that Yik Yak, because of its anonymity, is a good venue for students to express their opinions honestly. She talked about masturbation and how students shared their opinions without feeling judged.