OPINION: Should DePauw University ban Yik Yak?

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DeCriscio is a junior philosophy
major from Fort Wayne, Indiana.
CLAIRE ZINGRAFF / THE DEPAUW

Cyberbullying itself isn’t new. Since the dawn of the Internet, those who want to use the tool as a means to bully others have done so.

But Yik Yak has the ability to bring the bullying to a whole new level. The anonymous nature of the app means that unlike Facebook and Twitter, users don’t have to attach their name to their posts.

The results stem from funny, innocent and truthful posts that may be slightly too raunchy to post on someone’s profiles for fear of future employers seeing it to shameful, hateful, cruel and discriminatory posts. If you’ve used Yik Yak, you’ve seen a little bit of both.

Recently, amid the innocent “should I invite my crush to formal?” Yaks, I’ve seen replies to Yaks that are completely unacceptable for anyone to say, let alone for anyone within our community to say. This is particularly upsetting when there are such cruel comments on Yaks about people dealing with depression and seeking support from the community at large. To those commenters, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

So, is it surprising that several universities around the nation have discussed banning Yik Yak from their campuses?

John Brown University and Utica College are two such institutions that have banned Yik Yak.

They block the use of the app from the school’s Wi-Fi. But with the use of smartphones, I’m not too sure how a ban could be effective.

However, I don’t think banning the app as a whole is the answer, especially for an institution such as DePauw.

DePauw aims to make students capable of critical thinking. When I was a prospective student, I was told that not only would I graduate with a piece of paper that signifies that I have attained an undergraduate degree, but that being at DePauw would make me capable of being well-spoken, strong writing and advanced critical thinking.

But even if an institution does not place such an emphasis on critical thinking, I don’t think that they should ban use of the app.

Banning the app limits free speech. It creates one less forum for voices to be heard. This doesn’t mean that the aforementioned comments are acceptable or okay in any way. Instead, it means that there needs to be responsible usage of the app. The freedom of speech needs to be met with responsibility.

The fact of the matter is that college students are adults and should act like it. Institutions should be able to trust that their students act like responsible adults and to have sanctions in place should they not act like adults.

Lastly, even though Yik Yak seems like no one will know it was you who made that hateful post, nothing on the internet is truly anonymous.