June 3, 2023

Responsible Use of Social Media

The following message is from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion:

Social media is a powerful tool. It has the ability to bring us together, and it has the ability to tear us apart. As we return to campus for the 2015-16 academic year, let’s strive to make this year one of the best. That means using social media responsibly and treating each other with respect.

Not only does our Statement of Community Values condemn harassment of others, either face-to-face or online, Virginia law says it is a criminal offense to use computers and computer networks to harass another person (Va. Code §18.2-152.7:1). Plus, for UMW students, there is the Code of Conduct, which prohibits harassment, threats or intimidation directed toward any individual or group of individuals.

UMW considers any allegation of threatening or harassing communication to be very serious and will take all steps possible to hold offenders accountable. If you are subjected to threatening or harassing communication, be sure to:

  • Preserve evidence of the offending conduct, including printing or taking snapshots of statements made on ephemeral sites.
  • Go to campus police, who have the ability to subpoena records from internet service providers and application developers.
  • In addition, file a report with UMW’s Director of Judicial Affairs and Community Responsibility or to my office.
  • Consider whether offending conduct made online violates the rules of engagement established by site and application developers and make a report to those entities as well.
  • Remember that if it is not possible to preserve evidence of the harassing or threatening conduct, reports should still be made, even though it will be harder to hold offenders accountable. UMW will provide support and resources.

In an effort to increase awareness of the issues related to the use and misuse of social media, the University is focusing throughout the academic year on civility and honor. To kick things off, this office is sponsoring a forum entitled “Anonymous Speech in the Age of Social Media: A debate about anonymous postings on social media and apps such as Yik Yak” to be held Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in Lee Hall, Room 411.

We encourage all students to be as respectable as possible and to attend the upcoming forum. Before posting or sending any message, stop and think about the impact it may have on others in our community.

Dr. Leah Cox

Special Assistant to the President, for Diversity and Inclusion

lcox@umw.edu 540-654-2119