Arrival of Juicy Campus brings return to high school politics

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September 19, 2008

12:27 AM

“Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”

Oh, if only Benjamin Franklin had owned a laptop. Then maybe he would have realized it only takes one person and an internet connection to spread rumors and tarnish reputations. The recent introduction of the gossip website Juicy Campus to the College of William and Mary has caused many victimized students to wish Juicy Campus were dead. This anonymous gossip forum hit campus in early September and has facilitated the tearing apart of the reputations and character of many members of our community.

After my first visit to juicycampus.com, I was shocked by the number of hits the site was receiving by students at the College. In about a week we had become the second most viewed school, just behind the University of Mississippi. We are currently floating among the top five.

While I am proud that we have taken it upon ourselves to succeed in at least one collegiate arena, it is disturbing to read gossip about friends. As a member of a sorority, I am no stranger to unreliable rumors and the damages they can cause. The competition that surrounds fraternity rush and sorority recruitment only added fuel to the juicy fire.

Reading page after page, I felt as if I was in high school again, except I wasn’t just dealing with mean girls anymore; boys are getting in on the game, too.

While much of the content on Juicy Campus is hurtful slander, the site has to be taken for what it is. It is nothing more than another time-wasting tool, a way for hearsay to spread even in the silent stacks of the third floor of Swem Library.

My personal favorite is the saddening account of a girl being stood up by Thomas Jefferson or the post stating that the writer’s favorite Bible story was when Jesus rode through the desert on a velociraptor spreading the Gospel. Such stories are not only humorous, but they demonstrate that not everything written is accurate.

The anonymity of the site contributes to its lack of credibility, as well. Cowardly people, whether they are disgruntled or bored, are free to say whatever they feel without repercussions. At least on Facebook we know who posts the embarrassing photo albums. Juicy Campus represents a reality as truthful as an episode of MTV’s “The Hills” that must not be taken seriously. But are we quickly becoming celebrities, or fools?
We are not the only ones obsessing — colleges across the nation have experienced a similar effect. Other universities, including Columbia University and Pepperdine University, have even pushed actions to ban the site. I do not believe the site should be banned; however, the site represents the most spineless version of freedom of speech that I reluctantly wish to protect.

We are presented with the lesson that with such freedom comes the responsibility to use it wisely. Our participation in websites such as Juicy Campus does not simply tarnish the reputations of the people referenced, whether such posts are malicious or light hearted. Childish backstabbing, no matter how much truth it holds, is still childish.

I wish to ask all those contributing to the site whether they would continue writing if Juicy Campus were to reveal their identities. I am sure the answer would be an overwhelming, “no.”

As one student recently stated on the site, “Don’t you guys have homework to do?”

Joanna Sandager is a sophomore at the College.

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