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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

OPINION: Men’s Basketball just won’t back down
Abigail Taylor, Contributing writer • February 27, 2024

What’s all the yak about Yik Yak?

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THE DEBATE OVER USE OF THE YIK YAK APP ON CAMPUS—

In the latest social media craze, a new app has been downloaded on more than 500,000 devices on college campuses nationwide.

The app, with its iconic yak mascot, has been named Yik Yak and hit Apple and Google app stores in November of last year. Developed by Furman University students, the app allows users to anonymously post random comments and rate other posts.

Although the app is fairly new, it has already created a stir on Wofford’s campus.

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“Professors have been addressing Yik Yak in class about a negative comment that was made about another professor,” says Dean of Students Roberta Bigger.

According to Bigger, part of the problem is that individuals being criticized publicly on the app have no means of defending themselves or knowing who is libeling them.

Attempts to reach 10 different professors for on-the-record comments about Yik Yak failed. In general, their reason for not participating in an Old Gold and Black interview on the subject involved concerns that coming out against the app would cause negative feedback on Yik Yak.

On Sept. 8, the Wofford Daily Announcements included a note that junior Abigail Hoffman would be holding a Yik Yak informational meeting on campus. According to Bigger, many professors became upset and contacted her to share their view points on the matter.

“Yik Yak advocates are promoting a site that allows posts of disgusting comments about students,” Bigger reads from an email received from a concerned professor, but does not give out the sender’s name. Bigger says the professors believed that Yik Yak was paying students to come on campus and promote the app.

Neither Hoffman nor the makers of Yik Yak would comment, but Yik Yak did send generic Q&A responses from previous interviews. While Yik Yak reps are not considered employees of the company, they are paid compensation for “completion of tasks,” according the Yik Yak Campus Rep Agreement and Contest Rules. The Yik Yak interest meeting was part of a contest that is currently being held by the Yik Yak company in which students promote the app for the chance to be rewarded with cash prizes.

Bigger made the decision to pull the Yik Yak advertisement from Daily Announcements and ban the Yik Yak interest table, which was to be set up in Greene Hall. Bigger says that the Wofford Student Handbook makes her reasoning clear. “Every formal organization should seek formal recognition through granting of a charter,” says Bigger. Because the Yik Yak group on campus was not a chartered organization, it could not officially be held on college grounds.

“We prevent any organization from soliciting in dorm halls as a way to protect student privacy,” says Bigger.

So why is this issue still debated on campus? Many students and professors have expressed negative viewpoints on how the app has been used. “Even though I use Yik Yak regularly, sometimes the language gets a bit out of hand,” says first-year student Mitch Attreed.

With no personal profiles attached to the site, the anonymity is also an area of controversy. A recent article written by Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist of the Fox News Medical Team, is entitled “Psychiatrist’s view: Yik Yak is the most dangerous app I’ve ever seen.”

“Yik Yak has become the ultimate tool for bullies, especially at the high school level, who want to target another student or a faculty member and — without any consequences, whatsoever — anonymously destroy that person’s reputation,” writes Ablow. Some students see Yik Yak as harmful, not because of its language, but because of the time needed to actively use the app.

“I thought it was quite witty and comical at times, but it soon became a distraction, and then I deleted it,” says first-year student Connor Callais.

Despite a negative view in the media, some still use the app for the reason it was intended: to bring people closer together.

From the Q&A, Yik Yak co-founder Jack Beckling writes: “We identified a need to create conversations and build communities without prerequisites such as prior relationships or connections. We recognize that with any social app or network, there is the likelihood for misuse from a small group of users.”

Some Wofford students say that Yik Yak can be beneficial.

“I didn’t have much time to tell students about the [Pig Picking] event. I just posted about it on Yik Yak, and students who saw the post came by,” says Wofford junior Matthew Yocum.

Others enjoy the random comments.

“I enjoy [the app] when people post funny bits like, ‘Wofford College: where parking lots are more valuable than gold,’” says Attreed.

Even Bigger originally enjoyed the app. When the college was struck by the snowstorm earlier this year, she says that she enjoyed reading what students had to say about it.

“I think it is important for Student Affairs to be more aware of trends. Why not let students and teachers debate such trend?” Bigger says.

According to Bigger, such a debate involving students and faculty could be helpful in deciding on Yik Yak’s use on campus. She did confirm that there are no plans to block the app on campus.

The debate continues with both sides, and first-year student Nick Hunter offers a bit of advice: “Yikkity Yak, don’t talk smack!”

The debate continues on both sides, and first-year student Nick Hunter offers a bit of advice: “Yikkity Yak, don’t talk smack!”

— Ayrton Menjivar

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