To Ban or Not? Gossip Web Sites Still Pose Troubling Questions for Colleges

Just when you thought college gossip sites like JuicyCampus had disappeared, more college students are posting salacious, unsubstantiated gossip about their peers on a similar Web site called CollegeACB. (The initials stand for Anonymous Confession Board.) Colleges are again pondering two questions: whether they should ban the site, and whether doing so is a freedom-of-speech violation.

Peter Frank, CollegeACB’s creator and a Wesleyan University student, told The Chronicle in an e-mail that the site got more than 10 million page views from 250,000 unique users so far in September. Viewership has shot up fivefold since JuicyCampus shut down 19 months ago, according to figures Mr. Frank gave to the Wesleyan student newspaper.

That kind of heavy student use was too much for Millsaps College.

Millsaps blocked access to the site a month ago after student leaders suggested a review of the site contents, said Brit Katz, vice president for student life and dean of students, in an e-mail to The Chronicle. Millsaps had also banned JuicyCampus.

Dawn Watkins, vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Washington and Lee University, said administrators there pulled the plug late last year after their numerous requests to Mr. Frank to remove most content mentioning the university were denied. Ms. Watkins said a number of reported cases of cyberbullying among first-year female students prompted those requests.

When asked whether restricting access to the site was a freedom-of-speech issue, Ms. Watkins and Mr. Katz both said their primary responsibilities were to prevent anonymous postings that name individuals.

The reaction has been different at Tulane University. The student paper reported that worries about limiting speech have kept a student resolution to block CollegeACB, passed during the last academic year, from being put into effect as of September 17.

At Tennessee State University, which had banned JuicyCampus, students can still log on to CollegeACB. “We do not search for these or similar sites, nor do we look to include or exclude them,” Michael Freeman, vice president for student affairs, said in an e-mail to The Chronicle. Mr. Freeman said that a situation that presented potential harm to students—he declined to give further details—prompted the block on JuicyCampus, but that he has yet notice similar issues with CampusACB.

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