Page 2April 28, 2010
Class project causes social media policy uproar
A recent in-class project hascaused quite a stir among Mercy-hurst College faculty.On April 9, Communication Pro-fessor Brian Sheridan’s MultimediaStorytelling class learned how touse Twitter not only as a social net- work, but also as a tool for confer-ences and business proposals.Unfortunately, the projectreceived unexpected attention,eventually sparking an uproaramong faculty and students.It has also prompted an apol-ogy from the Marketing and PublicRelations Department. The lesson consisted of learning how to effectively use “the back-channel,” a social media term fora real-time discussion among userson an online network, such as Twit-ter, as they watch a live event.“The assignment was to use Twitter as a tool to communicate with other people in the class andhave an intelligent conversation live while watching a video on eating healthy,” said junior David Haurin,one of Sheridan’s students.Haurin and others in Multi-media Storytelling that day useda hash tag, #mhurst, to maintaina dialog among themselves aboutthe video—a recorded lecture by aUniversity of California, Berkeley professor.But a problem arose when acompany hoping to conduct busi-ness with Mercyhurst happenedto check tweets about the college. That company, which Director of Marketing and Public RelationsMeghan Corbin declined to iden-tify, contacted Corbin to alert herof what appeared to be hacker-likeactivity on the CommunicationDepartment’s Twitter account.Corbin contacted Sheridan, whoquickly assured her it was only anin-class project.She said she then offered to sendboth him and Dr. Anne Zaphiris alist of blogging guidelines that herdepartment had been developing.But the document that Sheridanreceived, according to Corbin, wasnot the one she intended him toreceive. That document, titled “Social-MediaPolicy.docx,” stated “stu-dents, faculty, staff, administratorsorother parties with an interest inMercyhurst College” found posting online content that contained “inac-curate, distasteful or defamatory commentary about Mercyhurst orits afﬁliated schools/organizations”could constitute “disciplinary action(including) termination or otherintervention deemed appropriateby administration.” The second line of the docu-ment read, “This policy is approvedby Marketing/Public Relations.” The 900-word-plus policy wasintended to “set forth employeeguidelines for all online commu-nications in reference to Mercy-hurst.”“My ﬁrst thoughts were, ‘Areyou kidding me?’” said Sheridan, who serves as an adviser to TheMerciad but did not assign, write,edit or approve any portion of thisstory. “I forwarded it to Dr. (David)Hyland, and said, ‘They can’t dothis, can they?’”Hyland, biology departmentchair and current Faculty Senatepresident, brought the documentto a Faculty Senate meeting, wheremembers in attendance unani-mously rejected the policy.But the backlash surrounding the document’s release may havestemmed from a simple miscom-munication.Corbin says “SocialMediaPolicy.docx” was still under review in theMarketing Department at the timeit was accidentally sent to Sheridan.She apologized multiple times forthe uproar it caused.“I truly apologize for the con-fusion this may have caused,” shesaid. “At this time, we do not havea policy for employees and studentsfor social media guidelines.” As for the project, Haurinexplained that Twitter can be usefulat a conference with hundreds of people.“Through Twitter, more voicescan be heard,” he said. “Also, if thespeaker is using the Twitter accountlive, they can answer questions orguide their presentation in a differ-ent direction based on what peopleare saying.” And for students who wish toparticipate in that backchannel dia-logue, Corbin says there are not and will not be college restrictions on what they can tweet.“I feel really bad about what hap-pened,” she said. “We obviously never intend to infringe on aca-demic policies or free speech.”
By Jennifer McCurdy &Ethan Magoc
Last Thursday, poet Andrew Hudgins continued MercyhurstCollege’s 2010 Literary Festivalby reading poems from his pub-lished works, including “AmericanRendering” and “Shut Up, You’reFine.”Hudgins entertained the audience with his unique sense of humor andinteresting poetry selections.Hudgins read poems that incor-porated serious topics, such as hisselections from “American Ren-dering,” where he read poems thatfocused on the dark side of Ameri-can history. He changed his reading to a more humorous subject whenhe began to explain his newestpublished book, “Shut Up, You’reFine.”Hudgins described “Shut Up, You’re Fine” as a book ﬁlled withpoems written for badly behaving children. Some of these poemsHudgins read aloud included“Playing Houth” and “You had itComing.”Many who attended the read-ing found themselves entertainedat Hudgins’s ability to capturethe voice of the child within thepoems.English Professor and Depart-ment Chair Dr. Jeffrey Roessnersaid, “I really love Hudgins’s work,partly because he brings such aunique sense of humor to hispoetry.” After the reading, many students were still chuckling on their way outand expressing their amusement totheir friends. Junior Nick Rex said, “I enjoyedHudgins’s ability to present topicsthat entertained as well as incorpo-rated dark humor.”Sophomore Trevor Surgeuersaid, “I found his reading to beintelligent as well as cynical in anamusing way.” The next morning studentsfrom Dr. Greg Brown’s Intro toCreative Writing had the oppor-tunity to host Hudgins as a guestspeaker.During his visit students hadthe chance to ask questions andlisten to his opinion on writing poetry.Hudgins also provided students with his thoughts on applying tograd school and the process of writing poetry overall.Hudgins said, “Many believethat poetry is an instant process;however, in actuality it takes severaldrafts before a person can call apoem complete.” The festival will close this Thurs-day at 8:15 p.m. in the Taylor Little Theatre with the unveiling of the2010 Lumen, Mercyhurst College’sLiterary Arts Magazine. The magazine consists of workssuch as poetry, short ﬁction, pho-tography and artwork created by Mercyhurst students.Free copies of the Lumen willbe distributed during the event, as well as the announcement of thetop three works from this year’sLumen.
By Chrissy Mihalic
Hudgins continues Literary Fest
Students celebrateEarth Day birthday
The Green Team hosted an Earth Day Birthday bash lastThursday in celebration of the 40th anniversary of EarthDay.
Shannon Malone photo
See the SocialMediaPolicy.docxin its entirety online at merciad.mercyhurst.edu/content/social-networking-policy. Or check outthe Communication Department Twitter feed at twitter.com/hurstcommdept.
Check out the daily specials at the Sequoia Grill, East Street Deli and Cantina De Laker.