New Twitter accounts gaining popularity, causing concern

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Wood Crushes

Brigid Edmunds & Autumn Gramigna, Assistant News Editor & Managing Editor

Two new Twitter accounts, “Wood Crushes” and “Marywood Underground,” are causing a stir on the Marywood campus.

“Wood Crushes” allows anyone to anonymously submit the names of people they have a crush on with a message about the person. “Marywood Underground” allows anyone to anonymously submit “the latest gossip secrets and inside info around campus.” Administrators of the respective accounts then post the messages on behalf of those submitting the comments, allowing the commenters to remain completely anonymous.

The administrators of the two accounts also have managed to remain anonymous.

The “Crushes” account, which published its first tweet on March 25, has more than 745 followers and has posted more than 475 tweets about students, faculty and staff members. The “Underground” account is less popular, having only 171 followers and 20 tweets to date.

Many tweets on the “Crushes” account name people directly and include sexually explicit comments.

These types of Twitter accounts are trending on college campuses across the country. Many public universities, including Pennsylvania schools Kutztown, Bloomsburg, and Penn State, all have similar pages.

Private institutions, like Wilkes University and the University of Scranton, also maintain “Crushes” pages, though a Twitter search for “Wilkes Crushes” last week revealed the account had been suspended. However, a “Wilkes Crushes 2” page is currently active.

Unlike the Wilkes and Marywood “Crushes” pages, the University of Scranton page states: “This page was created to share positivity. Let me know if any post is offensive to you and I will delete it.”

Both the “Crushes” and “Underground” pages claim no affiliation with the University, though both sites use Marywood logos and the Marywood name in the tag.

According to Dr. Patricia Dunleavy, assistant vice president for human resources, if these accounts are being run by members of the campus community, the account administrators could be held accountable under various campus conduct policies.

“It appears upon review that there are [tweets] out there that are in violation of the conditions of computer use policy. I also have concerns that it violates the anti-discrimination policy and probably the student code of conduct policies. It’s incredibly serious and offensive,” said Dunleavy.

Dean of Students, Dr. Amy Paciej-Woodruff, said she just became aware of the pages but upon reviewing the “Crushes” content found some of the explicit content to violate campus policies, including the policies on indecent conduct and abuse.

“We want to respect free speech, but I want to protect our students and Marywood,” Paciej-Woodruff explained.

The Marywood University website defines abuse as “harassment, stalking, bullying, physical or verbal abuse, or similar acts of intimidation or coercion including sexual assault, sexual harassment, and hazing.”

The sexual nature of the tweets on the “Crushes” page may also be in violation of Title IX, according to Paciej-Woodruff. Title IX is legislature that bans sexual discrimination in schools in any capacity.

Students who have been named on the “Crushes” page have had mixed reactions. Some have said the page is simply meant for fun.

“I think the entire thing is just a joke and is a way for people to mess with their friends and get a reaction out of them,” Alexis Kirsch, freshman nursing major, said.

Other students are not taking the “Crushes” tweets as lightly.

“I guess some of it could be hurtful to people, which is not okay,” Teal Porrini, junior art major, said.

Requests for comment sent to the administrators of the “Crushes” pages went unanswered at press time.

However, administrators of the “Underground” page said via the anonymous email address, [email protected], that they started the page to give students a way to network possible rumors about campus in an anonymous way and to bring transparency to the university.

“We want to expose some of the issues around campus, such as the inaction or delayed reaction in regards to emotional abuse among students and other issues,” said the administrators. “We knew this would be impossible to do if people knew who we were, so we decided to do everything anonymously.”

The Wood Word’s follow-up email to the “Underground” administrators about the details of the “emotional abuse” they cited went unanswered.

Paciej-Woodruff urged students to speak with her if they have questions about rumors around campus or see something online they are not comfortable with.

“If anybody has questions about rumors, come to me. I’ll be happy to tell you what I know,” said Paciej-Woodruff.