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Students must guard online reputation

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The phrase “college experience” is as familiar as it is exhilarating. These years are destined for discovery and cultivation of one’s best self. This is the time of our lives and the time to make mistakes. These mistakes, however, appear to outweigh the education that was once obviously attributed to collegiate years. Furthermore, we now celebrate these errors on social media websites, publicly endorsing these casual mistakes to an audience that now includes those who foot the bill for our expensive experimentation period.

These magical moneylenders are almost always the parents to whom we owe the opportunity to study diligently in hopes of a bright future. But with the expansion of technology and commitment to publicizing our inane exploits online, parents are beginning to see that their tuition is paying for some messy business. A social phenomenon that is something between OkCupid, Craigslist and university home pages has manifested into university hook-up Facebook pages, and NYU is no exception. These platforms provide hungover students a place to advertise the few remaining recollections of last night’s steamy encounters, in the hopes that they can find the individual with whom they shared a fleeting affair. Private romance has taken a backseat to these attention-seeking proclamations, often detailing the scenarios with more information than Facebook-savvy parents had ever hoped to see.

The University of California, Santa Barbara’s hook-up profile is a prime example of the blurred student-parent social line we must take into account when parading escapades online. Recently, the page had a Mr. Jim Baker play an unexpected role in its passion play when he commented, “So the only two friends I see on this page are my daughter and her roommate. Is this what my $25,000 a year buys me? Great.” His presence demonstrates the widening scope of the Facebook audience that students aren’t considering when using phrases like “instant pantydropper.” NYU Hook Ups follows a dating website guideline where students post descriptions of themselves and of their “dream date.” Although this clearly exhibits more class than the “texts from last night” style of other pages, the calls for casual sex and offensive comments cheapen its goal for normal introductions and, to a parent supplying the steep tuition of this institution, calls into question just what they’re paying for.

College years will  undeniably be anything but morally idealistic — they are a time to build and destroy relationships as students grow and change. But considering that the social lives of students and previous generations are now connected by the very platforms on which private experiences are posted, we need to bear in mind that we now have a familial, financial and even respectful responsibility to censor what we publish on the Internet. Also, we must remember that we are here not only because those who care for us pay for our tuition, but also because we strive to meet their high expectations.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 12 print edition. Sasha Leshner is a staff columnist. Email her at [email protected]

 

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