Teachers, students react to Twitter being blocked

Due to the recent inappropriate tweets written by students, the administration decided to block the social networking site Twitter.  The News article can be read here.

With this change, members of the school community have had opposing viewpoints about the blocking and the inappropriate tweets surrounding it.

Teachers, including English teacher Susan Fisher, religion teacher Rachel Harkins, and social studies teachers James Fendryk, Brian Powell, and Anthony Del Puppo have searched their names on Twitter.

Fisher was dismayed and hurt to find “atrocious” tweets about her. “Things that are written even as jokes can be very harmful.  Students have a language that isn’t our language,” she said.

Psychology teacher Paul Lazor believes that part of the reason for the apparent animosity is the fact that it is online.  “People will say things through social media that they wouldn’t say in a face-to-face exchange, because they aren’t tuning in to facial expressions, tone of voice, and they don’t have to face the immediate reaction…Kids like to complain about their teachers, but it’s maybe more pervasive to some degree because of all of the methods in doing it as in this case,” he said.

Fendryk was more amused than offended.  “For whatever reason,  the stuff that was posted about me was some of the funny quotes I constantly go over, but nothing mean, slanderous, or degrading was posted about me…Some of the tweets that came up about me were read to me, so that’s how some of it came to my attention.  But none of it was ever malicious or degrading or bad like ‘This exam is going to be so hard,’ or ‘Mr. Fendryk can’t draw a circle,’” he said.

Some teachers find it difficult to keep the same opinions of those whose inappropriate tweets have been uncovered.  “It’s like innocence lost, it can’t not change how I view my students, I know how they’re talking about teachers publicly so it’s going to take some time to process how I feel about the students,” Powell said.

Harkins, on the other hand, isn’t affected by the tweets as much.  “I did search my name, but I didn’t find anything about me…It certainly doesn’t change my opinion on anyone.  I haven’t even heard any names, so I don’t know who has done what.  I wouldn’t think less of somebody, but I would immediately caution them to think before they post, because that stuff doesn’t go away,” she said.

As for the way the school is handling punishing the students who posted inappropriate tweets, Del Puppo has some disciplinary suggestions.  “For a student [who tweeted inappropriately] who doesn’t have any past transgressions, suspension is okay.  Borderline kids should have strong consideration for being expelled…To be honest, if we had full access to people’s accounts, the number [being sent to the office] would be higher,” he said.

Despite not knowing specifics of inappropriate tweets, Harkins still believes that Twitter should remain blocked.  “My reason is that, as a teacher, my students were easily distracted, and unfortunately it caused me to even have them close their laptops and put them under their desks because it was frustrating for me,” she said.

Powell also agrees with the banning. “I am glad that it was blocked, because for 99 percent of our classes it had zero academic value,” he said.

Student opinions vary on the topic of Twitter being blocked.  “I guess it should be blocked, because people are on it during class, so it is a distraction,” junior Courtney Wilson said.

Juniors Michelle Cappiello and Allison Blackman disagree with her opinion.  “I don’t like it because it’s unfair to students who didn’t do anything wrong.  I’m surprised at the freshman class because their maturity level is so low,” Cappiello said.

“It’s kind of weird, because teachers used it, so now [blocking it] is a disadvantage.  You shouldn’t punish the whole school for what a quarter of the population did,” Blackman said.

Sophomore Madison Meyer believes that the administration could have handled the situation with inappropriate tweets differently.  “I understand that the administration wanted to keep the students from being distracted in class. Not to mention, there were some students who were misusing twitter. But I think that we should know how to positively and appropriately use twitter in today’s technological world,” Meyer said.

Junior Joe Novak believes that the real problem of the situation has to do with timing. “There has clearly been bashing on Twitter for a long time, but they don’t do anything until teachers get involved.  The teachers talk about defamation towards them, but they do [the same thing] to students,” Novak said.

Sophomore Kaley Martin doesn’t care about the blocking of Twitter either way.  “I don’t really care at all to be honest.  I probably pay attention more in class now, but I’m all right with that,” Martin said.

Brianna Glase is a Managing Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com

Additional reporting by The Patriot staff.