Online Conduct

By Abigail Parker and Georgia Williams

Technology is a part of everything we do. The majority of us have Facebook, Twitter, or some kind of other social networking page. All of us have emails, at least inside of Winsor and probably outside, too. But despite the prevalence of technology in our lives, Winsor students seem surprisingly uninformed about Winsor’s policies regarding students’ use of technology and the involvement of the school.

Most students agree that students’ online profiles and activities are unrelated to their lives within the school. One senior put her opinion bluntly, saying, “[The school] should stay out of it…it’s none of their business.” But where is the line between what is and is not Winsor’s business? In an interview, Head of Upper School Ms. Grant told the Panel, “If any member of our community comes to us with a concern for the safety of student or is worried that a student is being harmed in some way,” then the school will become involved in the situation, but, under normal circumstances, the school is not monitoring students’ online activities or policing technology use.”

Unfortunately, sometimes these situations can be ambiguous. Some students believe that there should be rules indicating what is and is not acceptable online behavior. Sophie Cyker ’14 remarked, “you can’t be punished for something you didn’t know was against the rules for you to do.” In fact, the Family Handbook states that “members of the Winsor community agree not to: use the school name or insignia in any media context that is in conflict with school policies and standards for responsible behavior,” a rule of which most students are not aware. For example, pictures of students drinking or using drugs while wearing a piece of Winsor apparel are punishable events. Delancey King ’14 argued that posting photos or other media of yourself or your friends drinking while representing the school is “a stupid thing to do, but it’s also your personal Facebook, and the school isn’t involved.” Her voice is just one of many clamoring for privacy and a division between online and school life. Unfortunately, due to the hyper-connected nature of many students’ lives, the line between home and school is becoming more and more blurred. One member of the Class of 2014 believes that the line should be more stark. When asked whether there should be disciplinary consequences regarding student behaviour online, she said, “No. Even if [the school has] access to your Facebook, I don’t think [the school]should use it…it’s your personal life; it’s your outside life, even if it’s against the honor code…it’s not relevant [to school]”.

Clearly, the issue of school jurisdiction over use of technology is a matter of much controversy and importance to students. Yet, many still seem ill-informed as to the reality of the rules and policies of the school regarding their online behavior. Regardless of their opinion on what role Winsor should take in this issue, students must realize that online activity is a direct representation of themselves, and sometimes, a representation of the school too. The things you post on Facebook or other social networks and write in emails are indelible and cannot be erased or hidden. Therefore, regardless of what Winsor can or cannot punish you for, be careful of what you say and do. You are a Winsor girl, and your online conduct should reflect that.