February 11, 2022 | LIFE | By Emily McKinley, Matt Silverman, and Leigh Walden
Imagine opening your phone to your favorite social media app to see you were tagged by your friend under a post about you. But it’s not a picture of you, it is an anonymous post talking about your appearance in objectifying ways. Welcome to CC Missed Connections, continued.
As for Colorado College, Chad Schonewill, the assistant director of solutions services for CC’s Informations and Technology Services (ITS), indicates there is not much his office can do when it comes to finding out who is anonymously interacting with this account.
Schonewill said tracking down a student browsing a website in South Hall on Friday would be possible for them, and they could even identify a student who was on Instagram at a specific time. But figuring out who posted a specific Instagram picture, even if the student was on the campus’ internal wifi network, is not something ITS could do, Schonewill said, because “being anonymous on the internet is pretty easy.”
Schonewill thinks allegations of misconduct online would be more likely to go through traditional disciplinary channels, much like those that would investigate in person misconduct. ITS has occasionally been asked to investigate internet misuse, but the investigations never turned up much, he said.
CC conduct responses are never a cut and dry process, but the path becomes exponentially more distorted when the perpetrator is shielded by the internet’s cloak of anonymity. In cases where the offender’s identity is known, their actions are evaluated in the context in which they were made, as well as the intention behind them and the impact they have on the groups they were aimed at.
Joshua Isringhausen, CC’s community standards and conduct manager, says that this response can take on many different forms, ranging from one-on-one meetings with him and the student to a disciplinary panel with different members of the campus community. In cases that are not explicitly discriminatory or prejudiced to a protected group, there becomes a gray area in how much the college can intervene.
“One of the challenges that we often have is we have to walk a fine line between First Amendment protection,” Isringhausen said. “[And] creating a community that is inclusive and welcoming and where people feel comfortable and safe.”
When shown several examples of certain posts shared earlier in this article, Isringhausen said he could not speculate whether they would be specific violations of campus policy, but that some posts would likely warrant a closer look if someone were to file a complaint.
In recent conversations with CC students, it’s clear some would like to see some level of regulation for the account.
One respondent who completed the informal survey for this story said they wished the page did a better job of moderating “so women are not constantly sexualized.”
Such policies might be coming.
The self-identified CC Missed Connections creator is working on implementing some of the feedback they have received from students. In a Dec. 11 direct message shortly after their interview for this story, the creator said they were “planning on putting up guidelines.”