Juicy Campus a Cesspool of Pathetic Hate Speech

    STUDENT LIFE — Covering 500 university campuses nationwide and boasting nearly 100,000 musings since its August 2007 launch, gossip Web site JuicyCampus.com has quickly become a fast and easy way for students to read and post entries on their campus’ respective page about any topic they choose. In fact, the site’s motto pretty much sums up its purpose: “C’mon. Give us the juice.”

    The site, however, comes with a catch: anonymity. Promising all entries will be posted without requiring registration or otherwise giving away the submitter’s identity, Juicy Campus is almost like a college version of celebrity-gossip Web site PerezHilton.com — except that entries about Britney, Miley or Brangelina have been replaced with posts about your roommate, your resident adviser or in some cases maybe even you.

    Juicy Campus allows users to search the list of postings by key words (ahem, names) or browse the most viewed, most voted, most agreed or most discussed entries. More often than not, the site’s entries are peer-related, involving anecdotes that ridicule, judge or — rarely — praise other students. Usually these comments are acidic, discussing such topics as “the biggest man-whore on campus,” “the sluttiest sorority girl” and “guess who has herpes.” Usually they are posted by members of the Greek community. And usually they receive hundreds of views, replies and counter-replies, in essence transforming the site into a huge, virtual bathroom wall that allows anyone with Internet access a chance to contribute.

    Because of the negativity surrounding many of the posts, it’s unsurprising the site has become quite controversial on several university campuses — at Pepperdine University, the student government passed a resolution earlier this year urging the administration to block access to the site, and similar measures have been discussed at Columbia University and Yale University. Bloggers across the Internet have denounced the site as a breeding ground for hate speech, personal attacks and blatant lies, with one student from George Washington University describing the site as an offshoot of the “Mean Girls” movie script.

    The student, Max McGowen — who himself has been a target on the site — has played a leading role at George Washington University as part of a grass-roots effort to bring Juicy Campus down from within by swamping the site daily with longwinded entries discussing topics as diverse as the intricacies of Latin to the history of the Egyptian pyramids. Students at other universities, including Cornell University and Williams College, have also resorted to this technique, posting chunks from the Bible or in some cases entire novels to drown out any potentially offensive entries.

    But even as complaints about the site’s content continue to rise, Juicy Campus remains popular and its founder, Duke University alumnus Matt Ivester, has said the site has plans to expand even more, defending it as an arena for free speech and a convenient central point for students to exchange ideas that would have supposedly been discussed on campus anyway. And although speech that is “unlawful, threatening, abusive, tortious, defamatory, obscene, libelous or invasive of another’s privacy” is prohibited by the site’s terms of use and Ivester declared on his site’s official blog that “hate isn’t juicy,” the fact remains that users of the site don’t really care and students continue to be listed by name along with links to pornographic films in which they’ve acted, people they’ve slept with and drugs they’ve taken, posted alongside lists of who’s hot and who’s not.

    So the tug-of-war continues between Juicy Campus administrators and students determined to overload the site with random entries in an effort to mask personal attacks, while postings continue to accumulate, even on UCSD’s own page, which is peppered with its fair share of embarrassingly crude comments.

    While in a perfect world everyone would be nice to each other and would never resort to anonymously posting random personal information on a gossip Web site, in reality that is never going to happen, unless the law under which the site takes haven — the federal Communications Decency Act of 1996, which provides immunity to Web sites to prevent them from being held accountable for information posted by users — is altered by Congress. And that creates a whole host of legal issues (the law was designed to prevent major companies like AOL from legal implications from comments made in chat rooms, for example) that make it unlikely the law will change anytime soon.

    Until then, posters will post, students will retaliate and Juicy Campus administrators will get richer. It’s a never-ending merry-go-round.

    So the moral of the story is if you don’t like the site, don’t use it. If you want to be an undignified, slimy asshole, post entries about other people that would make you cringe if they were about you. Or if you want to truly use the site as a forum for student communication, ditch the hate speech and post commentary that is actually relevant to making your campus a better place for everyone.

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