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The recent Houston Baptist University Memes Facebook fan page created quite a buzz within the campus community, but it also generated controversy after some students posted images disrespectful toward key University leaders.
Internet memes, virally transmitted photographs of cultural significance with humorous, witty or rude captions, have become popular avenues for discussing college life at universities nationwide. The University’s unofficial page taps into this popular fad with a reservoir of inside jokes, but some students added disrespectful memes that targeted administrators and professors, blaming these individuals for grievances while also spreading misinformation.
Like a bad apple in a barrel, these images soured an originally entertaining page and reflect poorly on those students who chose to complain via this ineffective forum. The meme page is not a bad idea if used properly and not employed as a venue for disgruntled students to lambast the University administration.
Not all students used the page or the memes in the latter manner. Many uploaded clever phrases attached to pictures portraying jokes about the University. These humorous combinations of witty, amusing captions and photos quickly became popular, with at least one post receiving more than 200 “likes.” The disrespectful memes, however, cast a shadow on the otherwise light-hearted page.
These offensive memes drive a wedge between students and the administration by forcing groups into defensive positions and spreading enmity. Students with legitimate grievances should vocalize them, but they should do so without unfairly targeting individuals.
This means of broadcasting conflicts is also an ineffective way to voice complaints.
Social networks are simply not the best forum for airing grievances. Administrators often do not see these complaints, so the posts often fail to resolve controversial issues.
There are more effective ways for students to voice problems, such as speaking with Whit Goodwin, director of Student Life; Becky Crandall, director of student involvement; or members of Student Government Association. Students can also send signed letters to The Collegian, which are then published in the next print edition.