MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Michigan State U. Bans Whiteboards in the Dorms Because People Write Things on Them

Are students engaging in more harassment, or are administrators defining harassment too broadly?

MSULovelac7Michigan State University will prohibit students from hanging whiteboards on their dorm room doors beginning in the fall.

That's because some people write offensive messages on them, and the university wants to take an even more proactive approach to fighting harassment.

Apparently, instances of students writing hate speech on other students' whiteboards have become more frequent.

"The functionality of whiteboards used to outweigh the downsides," Kat Cooper, a university spokesperson, told The Detroit Free Press. "That's not happening anymore."

Maybe students don't need to write on each other's whiteboards—they can just text. But if that's the case, why not just let whiteboards be optional? If a student doesn't find them useful, or is worried about offensive messages, he can take his down.

No, no—they all must come down. There's too great a danger of someone saying something that someone else doesn't like, according to administrators. The Free Press's article details the numerous strategies MSU deploys to prevent such an occurrence:

The university also has an anti-discrimination policy.

Staff, including resident assistants inside buildings, file reports with MSU's Office of Institutional Equity when they come upon offensive language on whiteboards. That office investigates the issues when reported, through the people who write the offending words or images are rarely identified.

"Any student found in violation of the university's Anti-Discrimination Policy can face sanctions ranging from a warning to suspension," Ande Durojaiye, director of Office of Institutional Equity, wrote in an e-mail.

Here's a theory: maybe the behavior of MSU students isn't worsening—maybe people aren't suddenly more prone to engage in harassment. Rather, the university has defined harassment in increasingly subjective terms, and encouraged members of campus to report each other anonymously. Students aren't abusing the whiteboards: administrators are abusing the students' free expression rights.

In such an environment, I'm sure it makes more sense for MSU to simply shut everyone up.

Photo Credit: Lovelac7

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Konima||

    Thanks Trump.

  • esteve7||

    Myyyyaaaaaaa People writing things I don't like.

    Remember, according to the progs, disagreement is oppression and you are violating them with your different opinion. Just saying I believe in Supply Side Economics, or Communism is a failed ideology, is enough to say you are harassing them or discriminating on them.

    Sorry, when everything is bullying and harassment, then nothing is.

  • Jerry on the sea||

    Staff, including resident assistants inside buildings, file reports with MSU's Office of Institutional Equity when they come upon offensive language on whiteboards. That office investigates the issues when reported, through the people who write the offending words or images are rarely identified.

    Wait until they find out what's being written on them bathroom stalls.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Student 1 -- I just had a motivation speech up on mine.

    Student 2 -- Yeah, written by a white man! AND i have to look at those words everyday, AND everyday it reinforces my oppression and history of persecution!

    Safe spaces will someday become 'safe zones' and then someday 'safe cities' always moving toward 'safe worlds'!
    Godspeed and I'll see you on the other side, in the land of blood and ruined dreams, white bones gnawed to the marrow, eternal cries of the damned and doomed.

  • Rhywun||

    Bones are racist.

  • Billy Bones||

    I am not!

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    You are what we say you are!

    /no sarc

  • Princess Trigger||

    "I keep telling you, Gandhi isn't white-white. He's light brown."

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    "Oh so now you are 'telling me' how it is??? That's just your fascist version of reality. Next you're going to say my dissertation on female glaciers isn't scientific and I'm gunna be able to punch me a white Nazi bitch."

  • Trigger Warning||

    The gendered glacier thing was fucking hilarious.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Just curious Half and Half; are you inspired more by Dante or by Poe?

  • Rhywun||

    MSU's Office of Institutional Equity

    Or, Miniequal

  • Not a True MJG||

    8===> ~ ~ ~

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: Michigan State U. Bans Whiteboards in the Dorms Because People Write Things on Them
    Are students engaging in more harassment, or are administrators defining harassment too broadly?

    It is a wise policy that MSU bans whiteboards in dorms because that only leads to students expressing themselves freely and not expressing what is politically correct according to the wise diktats of their professors and the MSU administrators. Allowing the students to write what they want on the whiteboards will only spoil them. As the students will learn later in life, it is The State who has the exclusive right to determine what is to be written and said, when and where. Therefore, it is in the students' best interests to learn the joys and wonders of censorship now than later before they become disappointed when our obvious betters place them gulags, shoot them, torture them for their ugly, unwanted and counter-revolutionary thought crimes. Censorship is always in the best interest of our ruling elitist filth, the little people the enslave and the collective in general, and the sooner the unwashed masses learn this to be an unconditional truth, the better.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    In my college days, whiteboards always ended up displaying one of two things: messages about what time everybody was going to the dining hall, or crude pictures of penii.

    Given the quality of the dining hall food, i'm not sure which one was more triggering.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Took our daughter on a college visit to to Bowling Green years ago. Yeah, their door messages were pretty over the top. Mostly sexual. It was enlightning.

  • Jimbo||

    Was she there for the massacre?

  • AlmightyJB||

    She ended up going to Kent State just long enough to blow a bunch of my money.

  • Shawn Levasseur||

    Reminds me of the "Whiteboard Ding-Dong Bandit" storyline from the online comic strip "Dumbing of Age"

    http://www.dumbingofage.com/20.....permanent/

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The functionality of whiteboards used to outweigh the downsides...

    This is the same reason they shut down the IMDB message boards. DAMN YOU, TROLLS!

    The "press" in Freedom of the Press refers to the device, the printing press. More broadly interpreted as any mechanism for exchanging ideas as technology advances, I submit to you that the press is no longer a net positive and should probably be re-evaluated. It's just too damn easy for negativity to spread when communication is guaranteed.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    This guy? When did I revert to being a this guy?

  • Zeb||

    You just weren't living up to "this asshole" anymore.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Well, I don't think that's true.

  • WoodChipperBob||

    It's OK, Fist, the rest of us still think you qualify, even if this guy doesn't.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    No, no, that's too much. All we need is to have reasonable and objective people with governmental authority to vet what's being communicated and cut out the bits that are truly heinous based off a foolproof system of language classification.

  • JR Robble Dobbs||

    Oh, like a US cabinet position and department. Say like the Department of Truth. But that sounds too long, let's miniaturize it. How about MiniTruth, doesn't that sound better.

  • CE||

    Exactly. The NSA can monitor text messages, Facebook posts, email and web fora. It doesn't have enough money or people to monitor every whiteboard everywhere.

  • Conchfritters||

    We did the same thing back in my day, but they were called: "chalk boards".

  • Odiferous||

    clay tablets?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Black boards are racist. They force white chalk on black boards. The black boards have no choice. Oppression!

  • ||

    This story would be a lot more interesting and informative with some actual examples of things that were being written on the whiteboards.

    But I guess that would have required more effort than simply reprinting an article you read with some of your own bland editorializing on top, so FUCK IT right?

  • Bra Ket||

    They could make it so everyone has to register before writing, and use a unique handle by which they can be recognized.

  • Robert||

    I knew the guy who may have started all this: David Lindelof, who in the early 1960s published his "Snarl" by tacking it to his dorm room door at Indiana U.

  • buybuydandavis||

    maybe the behavior of MSU students isn't worsening

    Maybe it is. Tell people "shut up, you offend me" and a lot of people will say it again, and louder this time.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online