When student websites become news sources

More and more journalists seem to be scouring the Internet for clues about college students who make the news. Today’s case in point: MIT student Star Simpson, who was arrested earlier today for walking into Boston’s Logan International Airport with a fake bomb attached to her sweatshirt. Simpson’s website (cache), which was hosted by MIT but apparently taken down today, became part of the story for some media outlets.

Information Week reports that Simpson’s “blog” (which her site is not) “loves ‘crazy ideas’ and ‘saving the planet from evil villains'” … with “my delivered just-in-time gadgets.” And the news, commentary and community site Bostonist reports: “On Simpson’s personal webpage, she writes, ‘In a sentence, I’m an inventor, artist, engineer, and student, I love to build things and I love crazy ideas.’ Obviously.”

This story has a bit of a humorous angle to it that plays into MIT’s reputation as the home of intelligent, geeky pranksters, even though Simpson’s alleged behavior crosses the line. But the writings on her website are not necessarily incriminating as, say, the blog of the gunman who opened fire at Montreal’s Dawson College a year ago.

The lesson for higher ed communicators: Be aware of what your students are saying in the online world — on blogs, social networks, YouTube and elsewhere. What our students say reflects on our universities, for better or worse.

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

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