Delaware Social Networking Legislation Could Impact HBCU Students Nationwide
Delaware college and university students are one step closer to having rights that force current and prospective schools to mind official business, not that of students.
This is because the Delaware legislature unanimously passed a bill last week that would limit public and private college and university access to students’ social networks. The decision occurred on the last day of the legislature’s session.
The bill, H.B. 309, applies to public and private institutions and includes student-centric, anti-lurking, technologically friendly language. It prioritizes technology as necessary for society and states, “Social networking is illustrative of our new technologically advanced community.”
These legislators understand that social media is the primary form of communication for scores of global up-and-comers, and that if students perceive institutional spying they will not only lack trust and respect for school leaders, but many will also disengage the very medium that is changing the world—or at a minimum, passively participate.
Most youngsters’ volume and content changed mid-secret if a guardian or authority figure was in earshot. I was about eight years old when I learned of adult super-ears. When commenting in another room on something my elder had done, aforementioned elder heard and responded to my whisper over blaring television. Heart racing, I sported zipper lips for the rest of the day.
We don’t want to silence student expression.
H.B. 309 would benefit students who attend or are interested in attending Delaware colleges and universities because their status in school or application process would not be compromised by their e-lives, and it would cement ever-elusive privacy in today’s technological age.
Other states including California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington and Maryland considered similar bills.
As far as HBCUs go, Delaware State University students might be able to breathe easier if the bill becomes law. If contemplative legislatures follow suit, Bowie State University, Morgan State University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore and others would be affected.
Might we see the land of the free include freedom in real life and Wi-Fi domains?
The bill continues, “The current trend for young Americans toward using social networks as a primary vehicle for effecting positive social and political change establishes social networks as the new digital age ‘public square’ for important discourse.”
Without social media activism countless political onslaughts would not have been.
President Barack Obama’s election. Arab Spring. The big SOPA and PIPA protest. DREAMer progress. Transparency regarding attacks on women’s rights.
But, this progressive possibility does not come without reality. People ought to be smart.
We don’t want to remove that which is counterculture and rebellious. It is not about pacifying provocateurs. But, if schools continue to fixate on social media the freedom to exchange ideas and form identities could be stifled.
Delaware’s leaders want to protect students’ email and privacy. But, even as moves are made to increase one’s right to self-expression with fewer repercussions, common sense should still be employed.
If common sense isn’t so common, then the Grandma test is often a good default. Yes, we all have room to grow, buttons that can be pushed and suffer lapses in judgment. So there is universality in e-presentation and riskiness, but would Grandma cringe at a student’s cyber trail?
Would it be a one-time shocker that she could recover from and count as a peculiar indiscretion? Or would she want to swap relatives at a familial market for someone less controversial?
All humor aside, the move to keep the ivory (and ebony) towers from facing Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest, is a healthy one.
The bill would prevent school officials from requesting students’ social media passwords and it would also prevent the officials from viewing student pages through their friends and cyber associates.
Let us hope privacy is protected. The bill is expected to arrive at Governor Jack Markell’s desk in about two weeks for his signature. From that point he has 10 days to sign or reject it.