By Michael Battista
Despite being away from the College for more than a month, last semester’s campus controversy and subsequent shutdown of the unofficial College Snapchat, tcnj.snap, by its faceless creator continues to chip away at me — I believe it was the wrong way to handle the issue of racism in our community.
Last semester, a photo was published on the account by a user, who may have been a student, of three black women dressed in red from behind with a caption that referenced the Bloods street gang. A student screenshotted the photo and her subsequent conversation with the current moderator of the account — who is not the account’s original creator — and the moderator’s defense of the post.
The College received a complaint via Twitter with the images from Snapchat included, and sent out a mass email to students saying they would investigate the situation. Soon after, the original creator of the account returned to announce they were shutting down tcnj.snap on their own accord.
The post itself was racist and completely unnecessary, but the destroying a communicative platform for our students because of an ignorant post by a random user is where I draw the line.
Last semester, I noticed that many were happy that the account was gone —they said there have been rude posts in the past and the account did not contribute much to life on campus.
My friends and I saw it differently. To us, tcnj.snap was the best way to stay up-to-date on campus happenings, like upcoming events, or sales for textbooks or concert tickets. It especially meant a lot to my friends who are transfer students, who credited the account with helping them get acquainted to the College’s culture after transferring in as upperclassmen.
“I’m pulling the plug… An account with TCNJ’s name on it that only gets things right 99 percent of the time is not good enough,” tcnj.snap’s anonymous creator said in a quote given to Lions Television. “Even one negative experience from the snap is one too many and I am now destroying it to guarantee this never happens again.”
The intention of shutting down the account is pure, but in its execution, tcnj.snap’s founder has damaged a vessel for discussion and growth. It almost seems cowardly.
For now, tcnj.snap is gone, and a new account, tcnj-snap, has been set up by an unknown user. The idea that racism caused the downfall of the original account could mean something to some students. For others it will turn into a blame game, in which some may say the creator ruined it, or the girl who complained on Twitter ruined it or the offending snap-poster ruined it.
Destroying things that may have been touched by racism may seem like an appropriate solution, but doing so may lead to the repetition of the same mistakes. People can weaken racism by attacking its source, but if what has been tainted originally existed for a noble cause, doesn’t it deserve a chance to be saved?
Instead of shutting down the account, the creator should have taken immediate responsibility for the mistake and moved on. Keeping the same account but knowing a change has been made would send a message to users — either change your attitudes and be allowed to post or don’t change and possibly be blocked. Destroying the entire account punishes everyone who enjoys the account because of the actions of one.
Take the example of the Trenton Hall discussions from a year ago. The students who took offense to the then-Paul Loser Hall did not want to tear the building down. Instead, the name was simply changed. It has become a part of the College’s history, reminding students that if you want something to change, change it.
The admissions building was not destroyed after the College started discussing Loser’s racist beliefs, but altered to a more suitable name. I feel that tcnj.snap could have been altered the same way, but instead it was lost — not because of racism, but because of the inability to learn from it.
“Deleting tcnj.snap was an overreaction on the account owner’s part.”