Yik Yak takes a turn for the worse

Mobile app threatens Allegheny’s Statement of Community

Yik Yak is rearing its head again as the semester continues, causing the Office of Student Affairs and Allegheny Student Government to interfere. In the past month, Yik Yak has become very well known to almost every college student as more of us download the app. Not only is it gaining more popularity, it is beginning to get uglier.
I rarely post on Yik Yak, but I read from it almost every day. As each day passes, though, I stop reading it as much. There are plenty of relatable posts, funny jokes and outputs of complaints posted here that I enjoy reading out of boredom. With those posts, however, come the booty-calls, bullying and other forms of harassment that are beginning to drive me and others away from this app.
“[Yik Yak] is not completely and obnoxiously new to Allegheny College,” said Stephanie Carson, ’17, resident adviser in Baldwin Hall.
She explained that there used to be “Allegheny Confessions.” It was a Facebook page where students could submit their thoughts, complaints and whatever they wanted to post anonymously.
This was another form of social media that picked up a lot of hype in the community and ASG. Last year, Katie Beck, former director of the Diversity Initiatives Committee, held a forum in Grounds for Change where students were able to voice their opinions on the matter.
Many students thought it was a very negative site that revealed real issues that needed to be resolved. Since then, “Allegheny Confessions” has faded away for the most part.
It seems as though Yik Yak is bringing about very similar issues of bullying and harassment that need more attention brought to them.
On Nov. 5, 2014, Joseph DiChristina, dean of students, along with Dr. Armenta Hinton, the associate dean, sent out an email regarding the recent activity on Yik Yak.
“It is disturbing to read the commentary taking place among a small number of our students. Some of the messages are intended to hurt others, and we find some of the jokes and comments to be racist, sexist and homophobic. This type of behavior creates tension within our community and does not represent the values inherent in our Statement of Community,” said DiChristina in the email.
They are reminding you, the reader and the students of this college that we have a commitment where we try our best to be a responsible, kind and caring community rather than a racist, harassing and sexist one.
“There is such an extreme lack of knowledge about harassment. It seems many folks do not understand the serious implications of harassment as well as the racist and sexist comments I often see on social media,” said Lee Scandinaro, ’15, community adviser in Baldwin Hall.
They also mentioned that if a student is being harassed, whether it be on Yik Yak or somewhere else, they can contact the Dean of Students office or Safety and Security for assistance.
In their attempt to remind us of our Statement of Community, most people who I encountered discussing it thought of it as a mere joke rather than taking it seriously.
“I think it is unhelpful in people’s lives,” said DiChristina. I agree with his statement, I think “Yik Yak”, at this moment as it is, is not helping anybody in any way shape or form. We as a community need to take this more seriously and think about the people who are possibly being harassed. We should also take a look and imagine how nearby outsiders of our community view us as a result from these posts.
Now, obviously, this is something that is unable to be eradicated, however the best thing that can be done as of right now is to simply make people aware of the issues. Awareness can engender even the slightest bit of change.
I think that Yik Yak has a short-term life here at Allegheny. Eventually, it will lose the interests of the people.
Until that happens, I hope that the bullying taking place begins to disappear with the help of other students who are willing to take action.