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ISSUE 119 VOL 20 PUBLISHED 5/12/2006

Regents 'expose' Facebook

By David Benson-Staebler
Contributing Writer


Friday, May 12, 2006

The Board of Regents Student Committee (BORSC) took it upon themselves to educate the student body about Facebook last week, through informative posters and printed copies of students' profiles displayed in the skyway west of Boe Chapel. The display is supposed to show the public nature of Facebook. Many students got caught up in gazing at the montage of student profiles plastered onto the skyway walls. Profiles featured items such as photos, class schedules, cell phone numbers and interests.

Since Facebook hit campus more than a year ago, eight to 10 students have been called by the Dean’s Office concerning their Facebook activities or posts. Some students responded to the administration's involvement in protest – much of it through Facebook.

While law enforcement agencies around the United States have used Facebook posts as evidence in serious criminal charges, Dean of Students Greg Kneser said that, "We [at St. Olaf] have decided not to enforce the alcohol policy via Facebook."

One thousand pictures are uploaded each day by St. Olaf students, according to Robin Karkowski-Schelar ’06, BORSC Chair.

According to Kneser, controversies over Facebook are brought to the attention of the Dean’s office almost every day. In the period of less than a year and a half, it has dramatically changed his job.

BORSC and Kneser advised student users of Facebook and MySpace to be tactful with regards to posting sensitive or private information about themselves or others. BORSC pointed out what students should be careful of when they put sensitive information about themselves into the public domain.

"There is a belief that Facebook is private, but it is not," said Kneser. Anyone who has a Facebook friend at St. Olaf has access to information many students consider private.

"The perception that the real world starts when you graduate is false," said Kneser.

Future employers can use Facebook to see any photographs of students drinking or doing illegal activities. Kneser asks students to consider the impact Facebook profiles might have on their future careers. He suggested that students ask themselves, "Can you run for office with those photos of you?"

As part of the Facebook Awareness Week, BORSC invited Kneser to a table in Buntrock Commons on Thursday where he discussed issues with passersby. Two computers were available at his table so that students could "friend" Kneser on Facebook.

Kneser uses his account on Facebook to get to know students before he meets with them.

"I do use it as a tool. If I have a meeting with a student I will use it to understand them," he said. "[Their profile] is a very candid picture."





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