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Web site’s ‘juicy,’ anonymous gossip prompts concern

Joseph McMahon | Thursday, April 24, 2008

Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College students have been taking advantage of a new Web site forum – juicycampus.com – to share gossip and spread rumors about their fellow classmates.

According to freshman Scott McIntosh, while the Web site can be humorous at times, the anonymity juicycampus.com provides allows students to post whatever they want without fear of repercussion.

“I think it provides a way for students to vent about campus life in general but it leaves it open to hurt others under the veil of anonymity,” he said. “I think that if members had to post their names under each post they would definitely weigh their words more and take things more seriously.”

While some topics are harmless, such as discussion of upcoming social events, others are lewd and slanderous, littered with sexist and racist remarks.

One of the more offensive posts included statements about African-American students that were full of racial slurs.

Freshman Khai Thomas, who created one post asking black freshmen what they thought of the Web site, said words like these show racism is still a problem at Notre Dame.

“This shows the true sentiments that [some students] hold deep inside,” he said. “They’ll say stuff like this blindly online where they know there are no repercussions for their actions.”

One popular trend on juicycampus.com is to post gossip, usually having to do with sex, about one specific student.

Saint Mary’s freshman Sarah Craig has five different topics about her on the Web site, where anonymous posters have called her, among other degrading terms, a “stripper” and a “fat troll.”

“I feel it is completely immature that people really abuse the Web site,” Craig said. “It really sucks to go on there and see your name posted up not knowing who it’s from and that everyone in the world can just go on there, type in your name and read about you.”

Craig chose to respond to her faceless critics by writing back and signing her name under the posts.

“I decided that if people really wanted to attack me and issues in my personal life then I might as well open up and be completely honest with them,” she said. “I don’t want everyone reading it and getting the wrong opinions.”

While Craig is unique in signing her name, plenty of other posters are critical of their fellow students behavior on the Web site.

“How sad and insecure do you have to sit around and verbally attack people on this Web site?” one poster said. “You people really must have no lives.”

Moreover, many of the posts could be considered sexual harassment, which the Notre Dame Office of Human Resources Web site describes as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.”

Under this definition, many graphic posts, especially those that insult specific individuals, could be considered sexual harassment.

Sophomore Brittany Wagner said the worst aspect of the Web site was the image of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s it projects to the outside world and prospective students.

“The thing that I really don’t like about it is that there are some posts on there that are from potential students posting things like ‘I was really excited to come but now I saw all the horrible things about the school thanks to juicycampus.com,'” she said.