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JCU Faculty on Facebook

October 8th, 2009

Facebook has become a popular means of communication for people all over the world. The phenomenon that was originally just for college students when it premiered in 2004, has since grown to be one of the most used social networks, now including everyone from junior high to those in the workforce.

There are over 300 million people who are active on Facebook and 50 percent of active users log on everyday. The fastest growing demographic is those 35-years-old and older, including some faculty, staff and administrators at John Carroll University.

Many members of the JCU community have been posting, updating their statuses, editing their personal info and Facebook chatting right under our noses.

Catherine Miller, a chemistry professor said, “I use Facebook sometimes to keep in touch with old high school, college and graduate school friends. I use it just to find out a private e-mail or number after the Facebook contact.  As for my former students, professionally, I keep tabs on them via LinkedIn (a professional social networking site).” But many FSAs use Facebook to “friend” and communicate with former and/or current students.

“I use Facebook as an additional form of communication with JCU students to get them to attend our office events and programs. I’ve found that students will often check their Facebook account before they check their JCU e-mail account,” said Marlo Henderson, the secretary for the office of multicultural affairs.

Facebook allows professors to keep in contact with former students and see the progress they make in the work world.

“I check it about once a week and I allow students to be my friends on it after they’ve completed any courses when I’ll have them as students.  It is great because they keep me updated on their student teaching and where they eventually get jobs,” said Katie Knapp, a lecturer in the education department.

For those members of the faculty who are not only teachers, but also published authors the site becomes a handy promotion resource. Philip Metres, an English professor and poet said, “[I use Facebook] regularly, daily, for social networking of all sorts – to invite people and publicize poetry readings, contact with friends and people in the literary world.”

But not everyone on campus is so keen on the idea of faculty on Facebook.

“I do not use it.  Students and faculty together on a social networking site is not a good idea,” said Nathan Hartman, assistant professor of management, marketing and logistics.

From the student prospective there are mixed feelings about FSAs being one of the average 130 friends the average Facebook member has.

“I don’t have any friends on Facebook that are professors.  I think Facebook is directed at a younger demographic, but it is a social networking site so it’s not an issue if they have it,” said junior, Chris Haering.

As contributors to the 6 billion minutes spent on Facebook per day some students don’t believe that their educators should be a part of the Facebook “creeping” process.

 “I think it’s weird– I would never friend a teacher on Facebook even if I did graduate.  I’d just creep on them,” said sophomore Leah Golian.

But some students at John Carroll don’t seem too upset that the faculty staff and administrators are invading their Internet turf.

“I don’t have a problem with it at all,” said freshman, Brendan Gulick, “My high school teachers had it and it’s a good way to keep in touch.  I wouldn’t put anything up that I didn’t want them to see anyway.”

 Senior Maura McCool has formed some good relationships with her professors of the four years and she approves of them being a part of her favorite social network. “I think it makes them seem more like real people and that makes them more approachable,” she said.