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Friend Me, Prof?

by Kenzie Kesselring

To friend request or not to friend request, that is the question on many students’ minds when it comes to being friends with their professors on Facebook.

This online friendship, which is not regulated by VSU policy, could provide a way to share educational links, stories and pictures with classmates and teachers. It could also offer teachers more tools to keep their millennial students engaged in and out of the classroom.

This modern-day relationship could also alter the traditional one that has been deemed appropriate in the past. This friendship can put students and teachers in positions where they see into each other’s personal lives, causing each party to have a difficult time remaining on a professional level in the classroom.

Students have various opinions when it comes to being friends with their professors on social media. Some believe it can open relationships between professors and students.

“I think it’s allowing a much more intimate relationship between a professor and a student that we have never really seen before as appropriate,” Katie McLoughlin, junior international business major, said.

Other students, however, have no desire to be friends with their professors on social media.

“I don’t want to be friends on Facebook with my professors because it blurs the professional lines between students and teachers,” Mark Hosse, junior psychology major, said.

While students tend to have varying opinions on the topic, teachers have similar personal policies on Facebook friendships with students.

“To protect my students and myself, I find other ways to express my long-term support and friendship, such as keeping in touch by email,” Dr. Hyer, VSU English professor, said. “I limit the little time I spend on Facebook to keeping in touch with immediate family and family friends.”

While anthropology professor Dr. Matthew Richard doesn’t friend his students on Facebook, he does utilize the technology to educate students outside of class time.

“I tend not to ‘friend’ my students right away, but I do maintain separate Facebook pages for each of my classes where I post things that are relevant to the courses I teach,” Dr. Richard said. “I think this is a great way for students to learn how to apply ideas that we’re discussing in class.”

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