I don’t talk much about social media here – it’s done better and in more volume by other higher ed bloggers and on Twitter, but the UCLA situation of the last few weeks piqued my interest.
Alexandra Wallace, a student at UCLA, posted a video on YouTube making fun of Asian students in the UCLA library. Here is her video:
It didn’t take long for the video set off a firestorm on the Internet. It was picked up by blogs large and small, news outlets, blogs, YouTube and more.
Then something interesting happened.
Gene Block, Chancellor of UCLA, posted a video response and statement online to Ms. Wallace’s video, condemning it and saying that it was not representative of the UCLA community.
I understand why UCLA responded – they were getting comments and pressure from around the world, but I wonder if this sets a dangerous precedent.
Will we, as institutions of higher education, now be expected to respond to every negative blog post, video, Twitter and social media mention that’s in any way negative about our institutions or one of our affinity groups? Granted, this was an extreme case, but it is something that we’re going to have to seriously think about at our institutions and, possibly, start to plan for.
I’ve read blog posts and watched YouTube videos critical of institutions I’ve worked at. One time, David Duke included the college I worked at on a list called “The Best Colleges for Whites.” We responded to none of these in a formal way, though there was sometimes calls for us to do so.
Finally, the UCLA student, Alexandra Wallace, has now withdrawn from UCLA effective immediately. She writes in a letter to the UCLA Daily Bruin:
I made a mistake. My mistake, however, has lead to the harassment of my family, the publishing of my personal information, death threats, and being ostracized from an entire community. Accordingly, for personal safety reasons, I have chosen to no longer attend classes at UCLA.