Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Parents check their kids' roommates' Facebook and Myspace profiles
Today, Aug. 8, 2007, Washington DC’s NBC4 station had a report at 4 PM that parents of college freshmen (usually legal adults and 18 or older) have been checking Facebook (and presumably Myspace and other profiles and blogs) of roommates assigned by colleges for their kids. In some cases they have been requesting that universities change roommate assignments because of what they find – including race, religion, and sexual orientation. Colleges are often reluctant to make changes of this kind – especially for race or (in public colleges) religion. Colleges, as widely reported in the media, have looked at student applicant Internet activity and profiles (even Facebook, profiles that are supposed to be whitelisted) before admitting students, but some colleges and graduate schools are now reporting second thoughts about the ethics of the practice.
The USA Today story is by Heather Collura, "Facebook Pages Concern Parents of College Freshmen," at this link.
Northwestern University sociology professor Charles Moskos, who helped author “don’t ask don’t tell” for gays in the military in 1993, but who now has second thoughts about it (while advocating the return to the draft – See “Now Do You Believe We Need a Draft, The Washington Monthly, Nov. 2001, with Paul Glastris, here: ) speaks about colleges now being willing to assign straight and gay roommates together. See Anne Tauneneck, “All That He Can Be” at the Northwestern Magazine site, here:
On the November 28, 2006 entry of this blog I discuss my William and Mary experience in 1961. I lived at home and went to George Washington and graduated 1962-1966. At the University of Kansas in graduate school I lived in Room 907 in McCollum Hall (on top of “Mt. Oread”) all four semesters, and accepted the random assignments of roommates. Toward the end, the University would assign another graduate student when asked. My last semester, Fall 1967, I had a good friend as a roommate (from western Kansas) who shared my liking for Ayn Rand and objectivism. There was plenty of intellectual resistance in our discussions to the Vietnam era draft and the idea of an "obligation" to offer one's life for others.
Update: ABC "Good Morning America" on Aug. 15, 2007 had an update story. One parent printed out forty pages of a child's roommate's Facebook profile and marched into the college. Schools, however, insist that much of this is discrimination and that part of college is learning to live with differences. Some profiles do have pictures convey negative "impressions" or "reputations" in terms of drinking, messiness, immodesty, etc. Remember that Facebook profiles are whitelisted within the edu community and are not supposed to be accessed by the general public without some sort of permission. Even so, some employers want to see them.