Campus services, professors use social media to foster community; others say it’s too casual

By Katherine Burgess, Staff Writer

Wondering if Brewer has your favorite meal today? Curious about a professor’s perspective on a fascinating book?

For Union students, answers to these questions and more are just a few mouse-clicks away.

Barefoots Joe uses Facebook and Twitter to announce events and maintain campus community, while Union’s Dining Services posts menus and cafeteria hours via social media.

Wellness Services also uses Facebook and Twitter to advertise promotions and pictures from events and daily occurrences in the weight room.

Dustin Donnor, Wellness Services operations manager, said the Wellness Services’ Facebook and Twitter pages have faithful followers but not as many as he would like.

Ashley Blair, assistant professor of communication arts who teaches a class on social media theory and strategy, said social media allows two-way communication.

“You cannot talk back to a flier,” Blair said. “What makes social media unique is that it provides a forum where your customers or your ‘publics’ can communicate back to you.”

Blair, along with many other Union professors, also uses social media to communicate with her students.

When Facebook first became available to colleges around the United States, Blair almost immediately joined and started using Facebook groups as a resource for her classes. Today, she regularly tweets information she thinks will be helpful for students.

Not all professors support social media use.

Dr. Justin Barnard, associate dean of the Institute for Intellectual Discipleship and associate professor of philosophy, chooses not to use social media.

“One concern I have is that the use of social media among professors and students might erode our capacities to think wisely about the normative structure of our relationships,” Barnard said. “In education, one of those structures is the student-teacher relationship — one that has traditionally been regarded in hierarchical terms.”

Blair said she has not personally found social media to have led to a diminishing respect from her students but agreed that social media has created a more casual atmosphere and the breakdown of the hierarchy between professors and students could be a concern.

About Katherine Burgess 70 Articles
Katherine Burgess, a class of 2015 journalism alumna, is a former Editor-in-Chief of the Cardinal & Cream. Her journalism has taken her from a United Nations Tribunal to the largest maximum security prison in the United States to Capitol Hill. She is now the Education Reporter for the Jackson Sun. Follow her on Twitter @kathsburgess