Laughter and controversy alike have surrounded the Georgia College Facebook meme page for the past two weeks, causing both students and faculty to reflect on the school’s core values of reason, respect and responsibility.
[media-credit name=”memegenerator.net” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]The Facebook page entitled “GCSU Memes” was created on Feb. 11 by freshman music education major, Brianna Riley, after she and some friends realized other campuses in Georgia were creating similar pages.ii
“My best friend who goes to UGA had liked the ‘UGA Memes’ page,” Riley said. “It was just a lazy Saturday afternoon, and I thought, ‘Hey, what if GCSU had a meme page?”
The creation of the Facebook page garnered over 1,000 likes within the first 24 hours and ultimately doubled in the first week. Many GC students have avidly generated memes of their own through various websites to post on the page.
With the intention of fun and entertainment, some recent postings that have been labeled as racist have caught the attention of faculty, students and even some alumni.
Natalie Powell, GC alumna, expressed disapproval over some of the discriminatory memes, stating she was saddened and angered to tears by some of the racist memes posted on the page. She sent an email to the GC administration.
“As an African American alumna, I have attended four years at an incredible school whose foundation was built on the success of the minorities (women),” Powell said. “So I come with confidence that this liberal college will now take a public stand against discrimination and against racism which has so publicly displayed itself.”
Interim President Stas Preczewski expressed his opinion of the racial memes in question and challenged students to take a responsible look at what harm those memes may be doing to other students. But many students took offense to this, stating Preczewski was infringing upon first amendment rights.
“I’m not trying to stop memes.” Preczewski said. “I have no intention of doing so, but apparently that’s where some of the confusion comes in.”
Many students were ready to voice their opinion over the “GSCU Memes” page and some were not so understanding of Preczewski’s email.
“I couldn’t believe it when I got that email from our interim president,” sophomore management information systems major Jody Titshaw said. “Why are they so worried about something so trivial when they should worry about something important like improving parking?”
Some students responded with a different approach to what Preczewski said in his email.
“Since the page has the name of the school, it needs to be monitored in some way since the school in no way affili ates itself with racist comments,” sophomore physics major Taylor Ray said.
Some students find the page humorous and see it as a way to relate to other students on campus.
“I think it’s funny, and I feel like people who are getting mad about it don’t understand our generation’s sense of humor and how we don’t mean any harm by it,” sophomore mass communication major Catherine Slaten said.
As the website administrator, Riley is concerned with the posting of racist memes and has begun monitoring the page as best that she could.
“I have two other people that monitor the site with me,” Riley said. “It’s hard to monitor the site, though, since I have class all day long. Sometimes I even check it on my phone during class.”
Even with all the controversy, the meme page is still gathering likes and students still actively post their own memes on the page. Preczewski said he wanted the students to simply be aware of the situation and call upon the school’s core values of reason, respect and responsibility.
“This is not calling for censorship,” Preczewski said. “This is not calling for condemnation of individuals. This is calling for condemnation of specific acts that have been found offensive to a large number of people, and I will not allow that to go unnoticed.”