As we enroll a freshman class in the range of 4,500 students, it is not policy that we create and maintain official class pages for each new group of students. Instead we let the network of Facebook groups develop naturally. The Class of 2012 group last year had more than 1,200 student members and hundreds of discussion board conversations.
Armed with information from the Twitter discussion with other higher ed colleagues, I was able to identify that the Class of 2013 group creators and admins were not prospective students. I posted links to the story on each page and highlighted the group admins that were attempting to pose as our students. Next, I messaged a couple of students who were engaged in the groups and encouraged them to take ownership. By Friday afternoon, the marketing groups had relinquished admin rights on one page and switched admins on the other. I emailed the new admin requesting that he name our students as admins. After a couple of snarky email replies, he gave up his admin rights by the next evening. The students who took admin rights for the pages are now cross-posting on each group and building relationships with the other student admins.
We have no official obligation to monitor or engage students on Facebook or other social networking sites to protect them from indiscriminate sharing of information or spam marketing. But just as I would stop a preoccupied person from stepping off a curb into oncoming traffic, it felt appropriate to empower students with all available information regarding their decisions. Particularly if that decision may ultimately affect their enrollment and engagement with the university.
What's your take on all of this?
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