This archived article was written by: Laura Strate
Officials at the College of Eastern Utah are using a popular Internet site to uncover illegal acts on campus. With help from myspace.com, CEU employees can tracking hundreds of current students and have discovered dozens of offenses that occurred on campus can easily be seen on some students’ web pages.
Monitoring of the website began two years ago, when officials were made aware a narcotics dealing was reportedly taking place on campus. They later discovered all suspects were myspace members and used their website blogs for frequent communication.
Employees narrow in on particular CEU students’ sites mainly after being made aware of certain questionable material by other students. Employees watching the sites have found students write about parties in their blogs or post pictures of themselves and friends aparently drinking in what can clearly be identified as a CEU dorm room.
CEU employees can also go through a student’s “friend” network on their site to find other students involved in these alleged illegal activities.
Over the past two years, CEU has come across approximately 24 cases of alcohol violations, four drug violations, and one case of solicitation. Students involved in these acts are found to be in violation of the student code of conduct and must pay a $25 fee, serve 10 hours of community service and pay $50 to see a counselor and set up an assessment program. Students are also placed on probation for their remaining time at CEU. “Our goal is not to be punitive, but to be educational,” says Bill Osborn, assistant dean of students. “The fines are punitive, but going through the counselor and doing the community service we see as an educational process.”
Most students will discontinue use of myspace or make repeated acknowledgement of CEU’s observations in their blogs after being caught, but not all students learn so easily. There has been approximately six second-time offenders reportedly posting incriminating evidence on myspace. These students are referred to the student conduct board for appropriate disciplinary actions.
“Be smart about what you’re putting on the Internet,” advises Osborn. “You may open yourself up to things you were not prepared for.”