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Social media transforms modes of criticism

Features Co-Editor

Published: Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Updated: Thursday, February 23, 2012 10:02

Elizabeth Ea

Social media platforms like twitter have made it easier for students to express themselves,


 

Ten, maybe even five years ago, students could voice opinions on what was occurring within the University community by writing a letter to the newspaper, emailing the administration, or placing a few phone calls. Today students need to look no further than their phones for a means of such expression.

Commentary on the University and its administration through a social media platform has become the norm these days. 

More and more students are creating Twitter accounts centered on the University, and have succeeded in creating a unique virtual identity for the school as well as expressing ideas and thoughts that capture what is quintessentially 'Nova. Moreover, they've created personalities of the typical University student, a raw image of us to project unto the world. 

"I feel like the anonymous twitter accounts like ‘The Novation' are a way for people to express their opinions and feelings without having consequences," says sophomore Kaisha Lourens. "And with Twitter, people can be more expressive and tweet their every thought at any moment they want. I think people like having that freedom." By taking the initiative to express how we feel, students have succeeded not only in drawing attention to what concerns us, but influencing the overall views of the student body.

"These Twitter accounts are followed by over 1,000 students," sophomore Lisha Duan says.

They have the power to sway readers or put ideas in their heads, which is unifying, if you think about it." 

Three Twitter accounts have become especially popular here at the University: "The_Oreo", "The_Novation", and "TheAntiNovation." "The Standing Novation" with 1,506, followers tweets to roughly 14 percent of the undergraduate student body, meaning that at any time, over fifteen hundred students are connected by his or her Twitter account. These accounts also provide students with the freedom to criticize their school in the fashion they wish. 

The immediate gratification of social media platforms has undoubtedly left its impact on the campus; it's a large leap from 10 years ago when gauging the public sentiment was a much slower process. 

There are, of course, some drawbacks. In the past, whole columns in the paper were devoted to letters, flyers were distributed, and students would stage protests and rallies. For example, in the winter of 1977, 2,000 undergraduates gathered for the Student Government Association's budget rally, after a rise in tuition and room and board fees. 

Similarly, in 1974, a rally of 400 students was staged in the quad in protest of the barring of registration of students who had been suspended for unspecified drug charges. The Student Government Association organized an arm band campaign where students wore balck arm bands as a sign of support of the SGA and dissatisfaction with the rights of the University students. 

Students would also stage sit-ins,  situating themselves in front of buildings or halls in order to coerce the president of the University into conceding to their demands, or simply just to make a statement, as was the case during the Vietnam War sit-ins. 

Such displays of solidarity may have become a thing of the past. Some would argue that the social media era has detracted from the college campus.

"Back then, their physical voices were all they had," Duan says. "They were more passionate because they had to be in order to be heard. I think the anonymity of Twitter has made expressing yourself a much more casual activity, but also more common and immediate. I'd argue that such means are no less powerful."

To add to the allure of using social media platforms such as Twitter as a means of communal expression, these accounts strive to encapsulate what occupies the mind of every student. The tweets encompass a broad range of topics from sports and Greek life to local establishments, the arts and Tolentine Hall. 

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