MSU bans whiteboards on dorm doors amid 'bullying'
Long before there were Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat to communicate, there were whiteboards. However, the days of the whiteboard are now over as MSU is banning them.
Beginning in the fall semester, students will no longer be allowed to have whiteboards on the doors of their dorm rooms, Residential and Hospitality Services Director of Communications Kat Cooper said.
She said the utility of the whiteboards has gone down in recent years, and RHS has seen some examples of the boards being used for bullying.
“Their utility was being outweighed by the nuisance of people writing things on them that just aren’t a part of our spartan community,” Cooper said.
The utility she is referring to is as a means of communication. Back before there were so many ways to communicate, students used whiteboards to leave notes for each other.
Cooper said she and her fellow students used whiteboards when she was in school.
“It was kind of the only way you could communicate,” Cooper said. “You’d stop by and your friend wouldn’t be there, so you’d leave a note on the door saying ‘Hey, call me when you get back’ or ‘Hope you did well on the test’ or ‘Do you want to get dinner?’”
She added that this is just no longer the case. There are so many more options for communication between students nowadays.
“Now students are much more likely to text each other, send each other a Snapchat, a Facebook message," Cooper said. "There are so many ways that you can connect, that they just aren’t essential anymore for communication.”
With the loss in utility of the boards and a presence of bullying, Cooper said it was a pretty easy solution to get rid of the whiteboards all together.
“Why give people that opportunity (to bully) when they’re not really being used anymore?” Cooper said.
Cooper said she thinks without the ease of a whiteboard, students won’t go out of their way to bully another student with writing.
“Someone is walking down the hall, they have a little too much fun and they decide to write things,” Cooper said. “They’re not going to go into their room, grab a Sharpie and come back out and write the same thing. They’re doing it because it’s easy and because it’s there.”
Cooper is aware there will be a reaction from the students, but she thinks they’ll see the ban's value.
“I’m sure some (students) will be disappointed, I know I enjoyed having one in school," Cooper said. "I think they also don’t appreciate when people write things on them that aren’t kind or hurtful or take away from the positivity that they can bring.”
Social work senior Isabel Knuth agrees with Cooper’s opinion on the whiteboards and sees the ban as a good way to combat bullying.
“I just feel like that’s a very easy way to bully people other people or just write comments that don’t need to be said," Knuth said. "I don’t see the point of having it on there anyway.”
On the other hand, physiology junior Glen Camfield said he thinks it’s unnecessary for the university to ban whiteboards.
“I think that’s sort of up to the responsibility of the students to be mature enough to do not do that,” Camfield said. “I don’t know about banning whiteboards, that seems a little extreme.”
Camfield also offered what he sees as a better solution to the problem.
"Maybe have a floor talk with your RA or something like that, try to identify students that are doing these things," Camfield said.
Much like Camfield, sociology senior Katrina Groeller said she does not support the banning of whiteboards from campus, but not because she is a supporter of having them on campus.
In a Facebook comment, Groeller said, “I honestly think it's dumb, not because I'm passionate about whiteboards, but they are only addressing the means by which the hate speech was portrayed, not the hate speech itself. It's pretty dodgy and micromanaging instead of addressing the real issue.”
Building on this further, political science freshman Albert Rodriguez said he finds the ban to be a breach of First Amendment rights.
"I think the banning of whiteboards are ridiculous," Rodriguez said via Facebook. "As Americans we are entitled to have our freedom of speech and we should be allowed to have white boards in dorms as it allows us to exercise our (First Amendment) rights."
Whether or not students believe it to be a good solution, there will no longer be whiteboards on students’ doors next fall.