Blog Posts Prompt Debate at Yale

While Gossip Geek continues to chronicle the lives of those they deem campus celebs at Harvard, JuicyCampus—a Web site boasting gossip blogs for 60 colleges, including Harvard—is making waves in New Haven.

JuicyCampus allows users to post anonymously to any school’s blog on the topic of their choice. Though the identities of Gossip Geek’s “correspondents” have also remained hidden, a single group of students is behind the site’s content. JuicyCampus, on the other hand, provides an open forum for anyone to contribute.

According to the Yale Daily News, Associate Dean of Student Affairs W. Marichal Gentry has been in discussions with other Yale officials about taking action against the blog, including blocking all access to the site from the campus network. But steps like this conflict with the Yale’s freedom of speech regulations, the YDN reported.

There have been increasingly vicious posts, ranging from “Heath Ledger Faked His Own Death” to “Who is the Most Obnoxious Douchebag on Campus?” Threads like “Sluttiest Girls At Harvard?” and posts filled with vulgar language have not been limited on the site.

Gossip Geek, by contrast, acknowledges on its Web site that it is intended to be “satirical” in nature and will remove any posts if the subject is offended.

“We get lots of great e-mails...from students telling us how much they look forward to our new posts,” Gossip Geek’s creators wrote in an anonymous e-mail last month. “And there’s, of course, people who love the blog because it says nice things about them.”

Some Harvard administrators said they believe that this “blog culture” is a growing problem that needs to be addressed soon.

“I would hope that we would treat each other with greater respect than these blogs seem to elicit,” wrote Secretary of the Administrative Board Jay L. Ellison in an e-mail. “It seems to be a growing issue that people are still trying to decide how to deal with.”

But measures like Web site bans seem unlikely in the near future.

“I would be extremely surprised if such action would be taken at Harvard,” said John G. Palfrey, Jr. ’94, executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. He added that if such a ban were imposed, he “and others would take it up as a cause.”

Although the JuicyCampus ban at Yale is opposed primarily on the basis of freedom of speech violations, Ellison said that private institutions have the right to restrict speech.

“Freedom of speech is really about the government not being able to restrict our rights to say whatever we want to say,” he wrote.