The recent suspension of six St. Mary's University football players over offensive tweets should act as a warning to students that social media posts can have long-lasting consequences, a Laurentian University official said.
The students at the Halifax, Nova Scotia university were disciplined last month after they allegedly published tweets that were sexist, racist and homophobic.
St. Mary's also attracted attention last September over a student-led chant that glorified sex with underage girls.
J.P. Rains, Laurentian's manager of digital strategy, said students should realize that when they're using Twitter, Facebook and other social media, they're acting as ambassadors for “their own future” as well as for the university.
The recent incident at St. Mary's will follow the involved students “for a lifetime,” he said.
A good rule of thumb to use before you use social media is to think if your mother, romantic partner and boss would approve.
“Generally those three people will have opposition to anything like hate, racism and sexual violence,” Rains said.
While Laurentian does use social media monitoring software to follow what's being said about the university, it doesn't specifically monitor the activity of individual students on social media, he said.
However, it will respond if there's a complaint about social media activity that contravenes the student code of conduct.
The code of conduct always applies to students' behaviour, whether it's face-to-face or on a digital forum such as Twitter or Facebook, Rains said.
“It's important that the student code of conduct apply to all mediums,” he said.
The same rules that apply to all students would also apply to student athletes, Rains said.
However, Laurentian does give its student athletes training on how to be positive community role models, he said. That includes their use of social media.
“A lot of our athletes are looked up to,” Rains said. “We need to be able to prepare them for that.”