The lead in today’s Manchester Union Leader is SNHU requires all clubs to reveal passwords. That sounds Orwellian.
SNHU says it is to protect the continuity of the communities. There are a number of approved campus groups that have languished since the page administrators have graduated. By collecting the login credentials they can ensure that new admins have access to keep the groups updated. And this sounds reasonable until you get to this bit.
[University spokesman Lauren] Keane wrote that SNHU’s top priority is student safety and the university would “work with the student groups to remediate” posts that are deemed to contain discriminatory, obscene, unlawful, threatening, harassing, or defamatory language, images, and video.
“SNHU would not alter or delete posts without working directly with the student club’s leadership,” she wrote.
SNHU says the policy only applies to any approved organizations group page, not the credentials of individuals in the group but does that matter?
Whatever SNHU thinks it intends institutional oversight cannot help but have a Big Brother effect on speech. Add to this the likelihood that content SNHU decides is discriminatory, obscene, unlawful, harassing, or defamatory includes not just it’s assurance of remediation but changing credentials and seizing Admin control of the group. I don’t think they need the login credentials to pursue that in any extreme instance where it might be warranted.
The University also has the authority to reprimand and expel students for things it imagines are offensive. While this may not occur to SNHU as a potential outcome, it will to students.
Now, having said all that, I think there are people at SNHU behind this policy with only good intentions, but there are also those who see it as an opportunity to gain access and exercise control. I don’t think it matters either way.
Speaking freely in these groups is going out the window. Engagement will probably decline and shift to unofficial social media groups that will swell in number as students learn about the policy.