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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Unofficial Western snapchat divides followers

Nudity, drugs and puppies.

These are all types of content featured on the unofficial Western Snapchat account “wwu_life,” which recently gained popularity among students.

Some students are voicing their opinions on the situation.

Junior Naomi Parsek said the explicit content posted on the account is unethical, because the account’s username includes a tie to the university.

“If it’s a personal account, they may post whatever they want so long as it is taken with consent, but not with the university’s name,” Parsek said.

Parsek believes the account gives Western a bad image and misrepresents students.

“I like it here, and I feel like it represents a small number of people,” Parsek said. “Or at the very minimum, it badly represents people.”

Sophomore Kelsea Kileride supports the space for free expression that the account offers to students.

 “I like it here, and I feel like it represents a small number of people. Or at the very minimum, it badly represents people.”

Naomi Parsek

“I can understand the reasoning behind feeling like you’re representing the school in a disrespectful way, but it’s not like those things aren’t going to happen anyway,” Kileride said.

Kileride is comfortable seeing nudity on the account.

“Nudity shouldn’t be as stigmatized as it is,” Kileride said.

Junior Mollie MacLeod agrees with Parsek.

MacLeod unfollowed the account when the posts began to make her uncomfortable.

“It’s representing Western as a whole,” MacLeod said. “I feel like it’s not the type of thing we would want people in the community, or even students, to have of Western.”

Western has official social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The university follows a set of well-developed social media guidelines.

Social media can both contribute to and complicate our lives,” Paul Cocke, Western’s Director of Communications, said in an email. “While we use it for a variety of reasons, it’s important to be careful what you post.”

Cocke said posts and comments can come back to haunt you, and when it comes to online safety and content, it is always best to err on the side of caution.

When it comes to social media, Western encourages students to be responsible, kind, smart and safe.

“Think carefully before you post,” Cocke said. “What seems funny to you may be hurtful or offensive to someone in your online audience — or worse yet, someone you don’t even know is listening in.”

Cocke said it is important to make sure your media presence is one you’re proud of and only viewable to those you know and trust.

“Behind the computer screen, there are real humans with real feelings and we’re all capable of making mistakes,” Cocke said. “If a comment or post offends you, express a genuine response while giving others the benefit of the doubt.”

Finally, Cocke said to avoid posting too much or too personal information about yourself or others.

“Don’t share any information or photos you wouldn’t want the whole world (including your boss and your grandmother) to see,” Cocke said.

Because “wwu_life” is an unofficial account, Western does not monitor or control its content. However, if students see issues of concern such as threats or suicide, they are encouraged to inform someone.

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