New social media rule for college students sets their teeth on edge

Many engineering college students are unhappy with new rules that will see their social media accounts being connected to that of their higher education institutes. As per directions from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), on Monday asked all its affiliated colleges to identify a ‘social media champion’ — a faculty or non-faculty member — who will operate all the social media accounts of the college. The SMC will have to to publicise the ‘good work’ done by the institute and its students.

The MHRD, in its circular to the heads of all Higher Educational Institutions, noted that the SMC will have to “connect all the students’ Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts with the higher educational accounts as well as MHRD’s accounts”. While officials say these practices are being introduced to publicise positive stories of the institution every week, students fear that this may lead to invasion of their privacy. Many are worried that it will be used to monitor their activities or views.

‘Big brother watching’

An engineering student from a city college said although the intent of the initiative was good, it would curtail what students could post.

“We are students and make fun of our classes and lecturers in good humour. With the new move, we will always have a ‘Big Brother’ watching us. As it is, there are a lot of disciplinary measures in college and we do not need monitoring on social media as well,” he said.

Gururaj Desai, State secretary, Students’ Federation of India, said that given the current political scenario where people were getting pulled up for expressing their opinions, this move had to be vehemently opposed. “It will curb the independence of students and the right to dissent,” he said.

The circular said the SMC must also connect with other colleges on social media apart from all social media accounts of their own students. They have to provide the college’s social media handles to the MHRD. A VTU official said that this would help engineering colleges and their students innovate and develop healthy competition with each other. “College managements will not pry into students accounts but only re-post achievements and positive experiences of students in the colleges,” a VTU official said.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 12:32:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/new-social-media-rule-for-college-students-sets-their-teeth-on-edge/article28493988.ece

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