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(In)Civility in Academic Spaces:

The topic of (in)civility in public academic spaces has become extremely important, particularly in the wake of the Steven Salaita case, in which Salaita was denied a job he had been hired before because of his anti-Israeli foreign policy tweets. How should junior academics plan to walk the difficult tightrope between participating ethically in public social media spaces, and simultaneous passing through the difficult challenges of the tenure track? In this webinar, Koh will analyze the landscape of public academic spaces through social media, the necessity of participating in these spaces, and caveats and strategies to keep in mind.

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(In)Civility in Academic Spaces:

  1. 1. ( I N ) C I V I L I T Y I N A C A D E M I C S PA C E S A D E L I N E K O H
  2. 2. “ U N C I V I L ” A C A D E M I C S • Steven Salaita • Said Grundy • Melissa Click • Diva Nair • Mirelle Young
  3. 3. H O W H A S T H I S C H A N G E D T H E WAY Y O U U S E S O C I A L M E D I A ?
  4. 4. T O D AY • Difficult conundrum of feeling the need to participate for ethical reasons, but being hamstrung • Discuss how there is no universal solution to this; much of the reactions are contextual and rely on certain situations, etc. (political/state context; race, ethnicity) • What does a “public” discussion mean on social media? • Different affordances of social media tools and their advantages/ liabilities • Summary and Suggestions
  5. 5. M E L I S S A C L I C K & M I R E L L E Y O U N G
  6. 6. Melissa Click video: https:// v=xRlRAyulN4o Mirelle Young Video: https:// v=sLemX9QtUa4
  7. 7. S I M I L A R C O N T E X T S , D I F F E R E N T O U T C O M E S • Click has been fired summarily without due process, a decision upheld by the Board of Curators at U of Missouri • Young’s university (UCSB) paid for her defense fees; did not consider her in the wrong
  8. 8. W H AT I S AT S TA K E ? • Different academic institutional/geographical-political contexts • Different race/ethnicity • Will administration protect you? Or use you as a scapegoat? • Administration not equipped to deal with these 21st century issues • importance of creating your own paper trail/records
  9. 9. W H AT I S P U B L I C ? H O W P U B L I C I S P U B L I C ?
  10. 10. P U B L I C S PA C E ?
  11. 11. P U B L I C S PA C E ? Dorothy Kim (@dorothyk98): “please as you would in a social group at a public plaza that you do not really know and they do not know you, introduce yourself and ask politely if you can join in the discussion because you are very interested in x and y topic. Also, make sure you know what the conversation has actually been about before just jumping in. Be informed, be polite, and listen.” Kim, “The Rules of Twitter”
  12. 12. A F F O R D A N C E S O F D I F F E R E N T S O C I A L M E D I A : FA C E B O O K A N D T W I T T E R
  13. 13. T W I T T E R • Jessie Daniels (@jessienyc): “Facebook is a walled garden, Twitter is the Street” • Positives of using Twitter Why is participating in conversation on the street important/career building?
  14. 14. L I M I TAT I O N S O F T W I T T E R • Hard to follow conversations/get to read everything that’s been spoken in a conversation (will demonstrate an example, please do not live tweet this) • “Hashtags” can be difficult to follow, if people aren’t using them • The @ function • Easy to take out of context
  15. 15. T W I T T E R A S R H I Z O M AT I C N E T W O R K • Short character length makes it difficult to see whole context • Some tweets get magnified out of proportion to other tweets, becoming perspectives from which an entire event is viewed
  16. 16. T W I T T E R ’ S P U B L I C N E S S : A D VA N TA G E S A N D L I A B I L I T I E S • Publicness—easy to be surveilled, e.g. Saidy Grundy being “hunted” by white nationalists • Problem of engaging with a public that has not had education in issues of systemic privilege/difficult to even have a conversation
  17. 17. FA C E B O O K • The “Walled Garden” • Importance of privacy settings • Issues of screenshotting • Does not have the ability of Twitter to be as impactful as getting to know people outside of your own circle
  18. 18. I S S U E S S O C I A L M E D I A P O S E S F O R R E S E A R C H • Majority of people still hold that Twitter is “public”, but is it? • Said Grundy: “I wanted to speak to a bubble. I was not trying for a mass conversation.”
  19. 19. T W I T T E R A N D E T H I C S • Harvesting data and republishing it (e.g. tweets that make up an argument) = involves ethics because human subjects are involved • Publishing research using hashtags may be profiting of people with less power/stature, while putting the crosshairs on them, especially women on Twitter (who often get rape/ death threats/doxxed for speaking in public) • We have not developed an IRB for humanists/social scientists specifically in the social media space
  20. 20. S U M M A RY: T H I S I S A D I F F I C U LT C O N U N D R U M • Sometimes institutions support/praise outspoken faculty/staff if it benefits them; sometimes they participate in their censure • tl;dr: you are always being surveilled, no matter how “private” a space is
  21. 21. S U M M A RY A N D S U G G E S T I O N S • When embroiled in a public argument as someone precarious/contingent, smartest thing to do is to step away from conversation. Do not further engage publicly, follow up privately. • Importance of creating your own paper trail/records/ screenshots if necessary, to protect yourself, and curate an argument that will be legible to others. • Useful apps: for screenshots, for creating stories from social media, for saving webpages