Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Faculty Union Wins New Protection From Student Abuse After Yik Yak Incident

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 12th, 2015

The faculty union at Eastern Michigan University, where the anonymous online harassment of instructors last year threw a freshman honors class into disarray, has won at least some protection from such student abuse.
The union, the Eastern Michigan University chapter of the American Association of University Professors, had made ensuring the classroom safety of faculty members a top priority in contract talks undertaken after the honors-class meltdown, which involved students using the online smartphone application Yik Yak to hurl insults and sexual remarks at their instructors.
Union representatives initially responded to the Yik Yak harassment, part of a broader breakdown of student discipline in the honors class, by pushing administrators to track down and punish the perpetrators and offer instructors new protections from cyberbullying. Their demands, however, bumped up against First Amendment free-speech concerns and the legal and logistical challenge of extracting the identities of the offenders from the company that offers Yik Yak and promises its users anonymity.

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