BLACK: A ‘Cruel Campus’



Brigid Black

Weaved within the pages of the World Wide Web, there exists an Internet site known as JuicyCampus that provides an anonymous forum for college students to rant, rave and ramble about whatever subjects they choose.

Anonymity is this Web site’s shining attraction. Creating topics and posting messages does not require any kind of registration or login with a username, e-mail address or password. All you have to do is simply choose a campus from the drop-down menu on the left-hand side of the site, and presto – you are instantly transported to that college’s individual message board.

At first glance, JuicyCampus may look relatively harmless with its fairly simple layout and design. In fact, the bright, bubblegum-like color scheme might even seem friendly and inviting.

However, looks here are terribly deceiving. The essence of the site lies in its shocking contents.

Predictably enough, the ability to comment anonymously without fear of one’s identity being revealed has tempted many students to write things that they wouldn’t dare say to someone else’s face. Insulting, libelous and even threatening posts have been aimed toward fellow students, causing controversy at schools across the nation such as Colgate University and George Washington University.

With such an infamous reputation, one would think that the arrival of such a Web site on any campus would signify bad news.

Unfortunately, Villanova can now be added to the list of 500+ colleges and universities that have a JuicyCampus homepage. Within just the past few weeks, Villanova has been sucked into the vast void of anonymous online gossip, and the results aren’t pretty.

Many of the posts on the Villanova message board consist of what appears to be senseless, vulgar and poorly written spam. It’s as if the posters have reverted back to junior high school days of juvenile Internet slang and embarrassingly bad spelling and grammar.

Content like this is difficult to take seriously; these posts are easy to laugh at and dismiss as a waste of time and space.

However, there are certain subjects on the message board that contain far more alarming content. Taking a closer look, one can see that several of the posts go beyond mere trash-talking and instead spew abusive and hateful speech. More specifically, racist, homophobic and derogatory remarks can indeed be found scattered across the many topics on the board.

Using homophobic slurs, one post calls for fellow students to identify the gay and lesbian students on campus, threatening them to “come out … or we’ll flush you out.” Shocked yet?

Fortunately, Villanova has resources on campus such as the Multicultural Students League, the Gay-Straight Coalition and Safe Zones that confront issues of race, sexual orientation, ethnicity and gender, among many others.

However, such intolerance and narrow-mindedness is a disgraceful presence among our student body. We as Villanovans all have the responsibility of upholding the principles of truth, unity and love toward ourselves and others.

And yet, these basic principles are thrown out the window on the pages of the Web. JuicyCampus has shown just how easy it is to use the Internet as a shield to hide behind. Without the fear of getting caught, students can say whatever they want. It is a cowardly, spineless move.

Whatever happened to karma? Plain and simple, would you want to see malicious and potentially damaging comments about you displayed in a public forum?

Believe it or not, students at Loyola Marymount University and Colgate University who posted threatening, violent content were actually located and arrested. Still think the site is 100 percent anonymous?

I realize that others may suggest that I have done nothing but give JuicyCampus free publicity by discussing it. However, I would hope that more open-minded readers would agree that by addressing the more complex issues that the site presents in a direct, head-on manner, one can see how JuicyCampus is more than just juice – it’s venom.

The line needs to be drawn between gossip and cruelty, and it’s up to us as Villanova students to do just that.


Brigid Black is a senior English and French major from Brooklyn, N.Y. She can be reached at [email protected].