Notes on a Scandal: “This is a university, not communist China.”
Written by Bwog Staff
Another certain gossipy website was the focus of last night’s CCSC meeting. Satow Room bureau chief Martha Turewicz reports.
From the first few minutes of last night’s CCSC meeting, there some early indications of the intensity to come. Proceedings started a few minutes past 8, and while the next hour was lost to constitutional review, VP of Campus Life Lindsey Lazopoulos (who is always good for a quote) noted, “This is going to get heated.”
CCSC President Michelle Diamond, coming straight from a bridal shower, explained that she was going on 2 hours of sleep and had a thesis draft due the next day. If she became snappy, she warned: “It’s not personal.”
But around 9 PM the room suddenly filled with people eager to discuss the night’s pressing topic: juicycampus.com.
Neda Navab and Diamond opened the discussion with unbiased terms, and asked that audience members’ comments go off the record, an attempt to establish a calm forum swiftly undermined by John Davisson (former Spec Editor-in-Chief), who retorted that since this was a public forum, it couldn’t be treated as a closed discussion. Diamond rather tersely responded matter-of-factly that you could keep things off the record. Eventually, some sort of nebulous compromise was reached on the matter.
Although the room unanimously expressed disgust over the content of the site, reactions were split into two camps over if and how the university should respond to its presence. Some, like Diamond and Lazopoulos, noted that if the postings on juicycampus were written in a physical forum, like on a campus building, they would be immediately removed.
Others were quick to challenge this. Glenn Thompson asked how many sites CU is currently blocking; Diamond acknowledged that none are currently blocked. VP of Policy Alidad Damooei was on the fence, noting that CUIT expressed concern that blocking the site would lead its creator to relocate to a new forum, one that would possibly show up onGgoogle searches, thus rendering blockage a counterproductive measure.
George Krebs introduced the much-repeated dialectic of a “slippery slope” of precedents that banning the site would entail. He proposed that CCSC advocate to sue the site over libelous content.
Michelle noted that the site’s disclaimer says juicycampus can’t be sued, to which George responded that anyone can say they can’t be sued.
Nathan Morgante, speaking on the behalf of Free Culture Columbia, defended free speech, brought up the issue of shaky legal ground (currently, an FCC gudieline prevents private internet distributors from banning sites—unfortunately Morgante lost the sheet of paper he had confirming this), and raised the point that allowing ourselves to be threatened by “anonymous idiots” reduces us to their level.
Brendan Charney, former president of the Columbia ACLU chapter, pithily suggested that in lieu of resorting to censorship (“This is a university, not communist China”), we should “fight bad words with good words.” Alidad seconded this optimistic rhetoric, championing a focus on “not what divides us, but what unites us.” Ooh, topical.
The meeting ended, however, without a clear resolution of the legion proposals. Perhaps it would have been best if everyone simply adopted the blasé tone of Andrew Avor, who, while acknowledging the harmful content of the site, finds it “ignorable”, and did not feel that it merited so much attention and discussion.