Students ask college to bar controversial social app

By Nick Draper, Jacksonville Journal-Courier, Ill.

The popular social media application Yik Yak won’t find a home at Illinois College.

School officials have banned the location-based forum application at the request of students.

Yik Yak is a mobile app that allows users to post messages that can be seen by anybody in the area. A post from a user in Jacksonville, for example, can be viewed by others in the city.


Users of Yik Yak can post anonymously or use screen names and, in general, any topic can be discussed. Recently, however, certain users of Yik Yak have posted racist and antagonizing posts that caught the attention of a number of Illinois College students.

Other posts poked fun at students or faculty members. Some threatening posts have been reported in the past.

The college’s Student Senate passed a resolution in February to urge President Barbara Farley to block access to Yik Yak on IC’s wireless network. The Black Student Union and college faculty members also voiced concerns about the application.

“While this is only a limited response to the shocking number of racial incidents that have taken place recently, we believe that anyone who holds such backwards and erroneous views should not have the privilege of being able to hide their hate behind a keyboard,” according to a statement by the Illinois College Student Senate.

The college removed access to the application through the school’s network. The application can still be accessed by students on campus using their mobile network data plans, but any attempt to access the application via WiFi will be blocked.

In an email to the student body, Farley addressed the issue of cyberbullying and racist remarks made anonymously through the Internet.

“An inclusive community at Illinois College is central to students’ learning and success,” Farley said. “Recent posts on Yik Yak do not meet the standards of our Affirmation of Community Responsibility. These posts can be categorized as bullying, hateful, intolerant, harassing or threatening and fall far from our pledge to ‘practice responsible and effective communication’ and ‘foster tolerance and respect in our community’.”


She said Illinois College supports the free expression and exchange of ideas as an essential feature of a liberal arts education, but “anonymous posts … do not encourage an educational exchange.”

The volume of Yik Yak posts has dropped since it was removed from the college’s network, but some continue to post. One commenter remarked, “the only thing disabled is the First Amendment.”


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