Student Produced Memes Removed from Social Media at the Direction of Administration
February 4, 2019
Filed under School & Community
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Memes are the political cartoon of the millennial, their way of venting their frustrations and expressing humor by putting a comedic twist on an image or event, usually on social media.
Over the past few months, several students have created meme pages on the platform, Instagram, which is a service for sharing images predominantly used by people under the age of 35, according to brandwatch.com.
The pages included satirical content based on inside jokes throughout the school that many students found comical.
Many students were outraged when they logged in to Instagram a few weeks ago and found that their favorite pages were no longer up. Students told me that the creators, who were not available for interview, were disciplined by the deans and asked to remove the pages.
Many students were outraged when the pages were taken down. In discussions with groups, students feel that this is abridging the freedom of speech we are afforded under the United States Constitution.
I reached out to the deans and other administrators to address the concerns of the students and get more insight on the situation. While I could not be told specifics, they did direct me toward Westerly Public School’s policies on online content.
According to Westerly Public Schools policy number 2321, which meets the criteria established by landmark Supreme court rulings, “No student, employee, faculty or staff of Westerly Public Schools shall post, forward, or otherwise disseminate any data, documents, photos, images, videos, or other information using any technology medium, including social networking websites (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, Form Spring) which might result in a disruption of classroom activity or the educational process.”
The important question here is does the content posted on these pages disrupt classroom activities?
In addition, the policy (7300) concerning bullying mentions cyber-bullying in its official definition of bullying.
It can be reasonably concluded from my investigation that the pages in question may have included content that violated the guidelines set forth by administration and that we as students agree to every day when we come to school.
At best this situation is gray area. There isn’t a clear answer as to whether or not these students pages should have been taken down, or whether or not administration should have gotten involved at all.
The reality of the situation is that when we are students, we void certain First Amendment rights like freedom of speech.
This situation should serve as an example and warning of what we as students can post online. You have to be careful about your online persona and what you are posting, no matter how funny or topical the meme is.