For a small school, Augustana has a large social media presence.
In just five days at the start of the spring semester, the Augustana Compliments Facebook page and a “Danny Berg” Twitter feed spread throughout campus with vastly different objectives.
The Facebook page acts as a forum for the Augustana community to compliment fellow community members. Compliments are messaged directly to the Augustana Compliments page and are posted anonymously with the complimented person tagged in the post.
“Augie Compliments is one of the best surprises I’ve ever seen, especially on Facebook,” junior Alexandra Hjerpe said. “It just kind of brightens everyone’s day to see.”
Conversely, the Twitter feed parodies the disciplinary tactics of Danny Sandberg, the hall director in Bergsaker, often using profanity and other obscenity. Even the Twitter handle contains a four-letter word.
“We don’t even know who’s running the Twitter account,” freshman Dylan Peters said.
While likely disgruntled freshman took to the tweets to express their discontent with their hall director, some students question the use of social media in this manner.
“It highlights the passive-aggressive tendencies we seem to have had this year,” junior Crystal Ortbahn, a peer advisor in Bergsaker, said.
Ortbahn argued that, while Twitter and Facebook are an outlet for students to complain, more appropriate and professional ways to voice concerns exist around campus. She suggested a more “low-tech” approach, such as a comment box sponsored by ASA.
“You can see in the cafeteria that when there are appropriate means of addressing concerns on paper, students use them,” Ortbahn said in reference to the comment cards in the cafeteria, which many students use to give feedback on dining services.
One concern rising from the criticizing Twitter feed is the response of the administration. So far, no known administrative action has been taken to address the tweets, and Sandberg declined to comment on his personal opinion of his anonymous alter ego.
“They can’t really look at [the Twitter feed] and go fire Danny,” Peters said. “To me, it’s just opinions getting out there, and nothing’s going to be done about it.”
Freshman Kylee Kettering said that the administration could look to social media to see what students are actually thinking.
“We use social media all the time,” she said. “But it may be more constructive to have an Augie page for Augie criticisms, so we have a place to say what we’re feeling.”
In both the positive and negative extremes of Augustana students’ social media usage, Hjerpe said that students should know professors and administrators are aware of what’s posted online.
“Social media at its finest brings people together, and at its worst it tears people apart with bullying and slander.”