Alums, Teachers Only Friends After 5 Years at GFA

[NOTE: This content was provided by the Fairchester Student Press Association and produced by the Beachside Press]

“Yes! I just got my diploma! Time to friend Dr. Kuhn on Facebook!”

‘Friending’ a teacher on Facebook after graduating is considered a rite of passage for many; finally breaking the virtual barriers of the student-teacher relationship connotes a new sense of equality and freedom. However, for the Class of 2014 and beyond, alums cannot be friends with teachers on Facebook until the five-year anniversary of their graduation. In other words, a graduate will be able to go to drink alcohol with a teacher before they can be friends on Facebook. Additionally, if an alum becomes a teacher or teacher’s assistant at GFA the year after they graduate, then these colleagues can not be Facebook friends for another year.

Facebook and education - a controversial mix. Image by MKHMarketing.

Facebook and education – a controversial mix. Image by MKHMarketing.

“We are still up for altering the policy,” says new Assistant Head of School, Mr. Christos Kolovos. He also adds that “it is tremendously important to all of the faculty that we stay in touch with young alums. There are lots of ways for that communication to happen. I have had great luck, for example, with e-mail and with LinkedIn, and stay in regular touch with quite a few alums from my former school.” LinkedIn is a professional social network, which, for most students, sounds drab and dull (and definitely less hip) compared to Facebook.

“Did something happen? Does this mean I can not be friends with Mr. Burns anymore (and will not receive his hilarious comments)?!”

Many may be asking how this policy came about. The answer is that nothing in particular happened; it is a pre-emptive policy to keep current student- and teacher-relationships the same that they would be in a non-Facebook world. The policy comes out of recent conversations between lawyers, the faculty, and the administration, as well as later conversations among the administration. Additionally, close relations between young alums and current students played a role in the considerations.

Although there are no legal limits on recent alumni-teacher Facebook friendships like there are in student-teacher Facebook relations, it is current students that are the issue. If a sibling or friend of a current student is a Facebook friend of that students’ teacher, and the alum posts a photo on Facebook that crosses the boundary between students and teachers, then it may alter the teacher’s capacity to be the mentor he or she wants to be. Mr. Kolovos stresses mentorship as a key factor in the new policy, as he states, “While students are here, it is important that faculty are mentors to students. Mentorship is different than friendship; mentorship requires close connection, but also some professional boundaries. Facebook is a great vehicle for friends to connect, but is not designed for mentoring.” Through the information posted on Facebook about a current student, a teacher may face an “ethical dilemma” considering the student’s actions or words.

Connection between recent alums and teachers is still possible through e-mail and LinkedIn, and it is important to Mr. Kolovos that the new policy does not limit alum-teacher contacts. However, many alums probably will not find as much the pleasure in “Facebook stalking” their teachers five years removed from graduating. While the policy is designed to protect teachers’ relationships with current students, only time will tell how it will affect the relationships between young alums and teachers.

— Frankie Garofalo, Layout Editor at the Beachside Press

Posted by on October 23, 2013. Filed under FSPA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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