UCA’s university and government relations division and police department said they both take part in monitoring UCA-related social media to protect university interests and promote a safer Internet environment for students.
Associate Media Relations Director Fredricka Sharkey said the university and government relations division searches for social media mentions using tags such as “University of Central Arkansas,” “Central Arkansas,” “Conway” and “UCA.”
“We respond to questions and concerns, as well as congratulate students who have been accepted to UCA or have other student accomplishments,” she said.
Sharkey said the division works to shut down unofficial UCA social media.
“Unofficial UCA social media is a site claiming to be an official University of Central Arkansas source while using the approved logo, brand, or other copyrighted material without permission,” she said. “We would work to shut down those sites regardless of content as this would not be an official UCA source.”
Sharkey said they find social media mentions for other associations that use “UCA” as an acronym during routine searches, such as the Universal Cheerleaders Association, University of Central America and University of Central Asia.
Sophomore Victoria Hittle said monitoring UCA-related social media is a smart idea because things can easily get out of hand on certain accounts.
“It’s easier to say things on the Internet than face-to-face, so people are more likely to say things they don’t mean without consideration to how the other person may interpret it,” Hittle said. “As long as it’s for the benefit of the students and protections of UCA students as a whole, I think it’s good idea.”
Students may report inappropriate accounts or posts to UCAPD.
Hittle said she would report an account to UCAPD “on the premise of trying to promote a safer environment for students.”
UCAPD Project Director Arch Jones said if individuals contact UCAPD or report questionable activity on a particular site, it will look into the matter.
“If any of the activity is of a criminal nature we will launch the appropriate criminal investigation,” he said.
Jones said the police department looks for criminal activity and responds based on the account’s content.
“We will look into criminal activity that could result in charges such as cyberbullying, harassment and terroristic threatening,” he said.
According to UCA’s website, policy violations “will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination for cause.”
For the purposes of this policy, social media means any facility for online publication and commentary, including without limitation blogs, wikis and social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.
UCA’s social media policy “governs the publication of and commentary on social media by employees of University of Central Arkansas.”
The policy lists “making threatening, obscene or disparaging remarks directed at another individual on Facebook, MySpace or other internet site” as an offense subject to disciplinary action.
UCAPD shut down two accounts in the last year through a law enforcement request process.
One UCA-related account many students believe UCAPD shut down was UCA Burn Book, which offered students a way to anonymously submit insults. The account ran from Sept. 5, 2013, through Sept. 14, 2013, with only 31 tweets.
Jones said a criminal complaint was not filed with their department against UCA Burn Book, @UCABurnBook.
“We did not receive an official report,” he said. “Therefore, we did not pursue the matter further, especially since the activity on the account ended.”
Jones said concerned students throughout the day Sept. 13 made the department aware of UCA Burn Book’s posts on Twitter
“As a result of the input from these concerned students, we submitted a law enforcement request to Twitter asking that the offending posts be deleted and the account be shut down,” he said. “We received an automated response from Twitter but nothing further since that time.”
Jones said the account could have been filed as harassment.
Hittle said UCA Burn Book and other accounts that could be taken offensively such as UCA Confessions could be funny, but hurtful.
“A lot of times they don’t know when to draw the line,” she said. “If they would use better discretion when posting, I would like them better.”
Freshman Mollie Moore said she agreed it was OK if done to protect students.
Many UCA-related Twitter accounts have been well received.
Club Torreyson’s Twitter account moderator is a senior who asked to remain anonymous.
Club Torreyson, @ClubTorreyson, contains original posts about campus life and features posts from students who have a complaint or statement about being in Torreyson Library.
While she doesn’t know of any rules for UCA-related social media, she said she tries to keep her account clean.
“I don’t curse in my tweets and I’m really just here to provide a laugh,” she said. “I try not to be offensive in what I tweet or retweet.”
The Club Torreyson moderator said most students find the account funny.
“I haven’t had any say otherwise,” she said. “Some just complain about [Torreyson Library] but I don’t pay them much attention.”
The UCA Crushes moderator said the account has received a couple mean tweets.
UCA Crushes, @BearCrushUCA, allows students to anonymously share their campus crushes.
“We tell them ‘no,’” the moderator said. “We don’t want to insult anyone, we just wanna share the love.”
The UCA Crushes moderator said the account receives several retweets and favorites.
“I love being anonymous because I casually ask people for their opinions on the account and they have no idea I run it,” the moderator said. “I’ve never heard a complaint. I think people think it’s amusing. It’s seriously such a blast to run.”
The moderator also said it’s annoying when people send in crushes about sororities or fraternities as a whole or ask them to promote other accounts.
The UCA Passouts moderator, a freshman male, said the tweets he receives are pretty mild and he posts most of them.
UCA Passouts, @UCA_Passouts, features submitted photos of students who have fallen asleep at various locations on campus.
“If it’s demeaning to a person or inappropriate content I wouldn’t post it but I haven’t had any of those yet,” he said. “I have had someone ask me to delete a tweet before after they posted it and I reposted it.”
He said the general reaction to the account is humorous.
“I’ll be around people and they’ll see someone asleep and think it’s hilarious and try to take a picture of it and post it and they don’t even know that I am the account,” he said. “And then you have people who will go through all the pictures posted and laugh at the people they know that have been on UCA Passouts.”
He said the anonymity of the accounts adds to it.
“I’ve been put on the account once and no one but just a couple of my friends know who runs the account,” he said.
Moore said accounts such as Club Torreyson, UCA Crushes and UCA Passouts are pretty funny.
“Sometimes students don’t like their pictures being on social media without their permission, so that would be the only issue with those kind of accounts,” she said.
Hittle said she personally doesn’t want her pictures on the accounts either.
Club Torreyson, UCA Passouts and UCA Crushes haven’t been contacted by UCAPD or UCA administration regarding any of their content.
Apart from non-affiliated social media accounts, the university has found itself working to increase involvement and interactivity from the UCA community.
In the past, UCA had a program using social media as an engagement tool for students.
UCA’s Enrollment Management launched a social media project in collaboration with existing UCA media to increase student involvement in campus activities and awareness of the university’s features in 2012.
Sophomore Daniel Grayling joined the team during his first semester on campus.
“Our social media team was assembled as an experiment in realizing the potential of UCA’s social media infrastructure by utilizing the talents of actual students who understood and shared the interests of our peers,” he said. “We were tasked with curating some channels of UCA’s social media while also generating image and video content.”
Grayling said the project didn’t continue partially due to the resignation of Special Projects Director Larry Burns, though ultimately the discontinuation of the initiative resulted from the disbandment of Enrollment Management.
Grayling said he would like to see a similar program in the future.
“The work performed by talented students provided adequate equipment and resources can surpass that of professional production contractors,” he said. “We understood UCA students in a way that simply cannot be replicated by anyone who is not a UCA student.”
Grayling said he was proud of the team’s work.