Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Students Punished for Facebook Comments

A student council president of a Robert F. Hall Catholic Secondary School in Toronto asked a very pertinent question after being suspended for "online bullying" for negative comments made about the school Principal in Facebook, "When does the school's jurisdiction end?" said Sultana, 17, , adding as far as he knows none of the 19 students was accessing Facebook during school time or on school computers. Since Sultana says he only viewed the comments but did not take part - yet suffered a suspension - where does guilt begin? By association? By viewing comments? By opposing the principal? By voicing free will? By using Facebook to vent? Having an opinion at 17?

The students involved in this online discussion, not able to plead their case or discuss the suspension, are naturally concerned and confused. But what it really signifies is that there is something wrong with the administration of this school - and the students in their frustration were venting about that. Not only is there concern about how they were treated by the principal before this Facebook discussion, but also why they are denied opportunities to discuss the issues when punsihment is meted out.

The long arm of totalitarian control, denying opportunities to face the charges, denial of freedoms - exercised by a principal who obviously has some organizational problems to deal with. This is not what we should be teaching our students.

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