Yik Yak causes a stir on MU campus

This is not the first time Yik Yak has been a part of a campus safety issue.

The safety of allowing Yik Yak on MU’s campus is in question after the threatening Yaks posted Tuesday night caused campus-wide panic.

One of the two “yaks” that threatened student safety on campus read, “I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see.” The other “yak” said: “Some of you are alright. Don’t go to campus tomorrow.”

Multiple rumors began to spread on the app from the Ku Klux Klan being in Greek Town to bricks being thrown through different Residence Hall windows to a shooting at Copper Beech. These claims have been found to be false. Hunter M. Park, a 19-year-old Missouri University of Science and Technology student in Rolla was arrested at 1:50 a.m. on Nov. 11 for allegedly posting at least one of the two threatening “yaks.”

Regarding the rumors, MU Police Department Maj. Brian Weimer said in an email that he encourages all students, faculty and staff to go to MU Alert for official information.

With recent events in mind, the concern whether the MUPD should be monitoring Yik Yak closely or that Yik Yak use may be banned from MU campus altogether has been discussed.

“We monitor social media at times when we can,” Weimer said. “These reports typically come from people sending the post to us.”

Weimer said that having Yik Yak banned from campus is not a decision for MUPD to make. MU Spokesman Christian Basi has not yet commented about MU possibly banning Yik Yak from campus.

This is not the first time Yik Yak has been a part of a campus safety issue. According to an article by CNN, Yik Yak was in question after a junior at University of Mary Washington, Grace Rebecca Mann, was murdered in April by Steven Vander Briel, a former UMW rugby club member.

Mann was a strong leader in UMW’s Feminists United, and before her murder, she had been targeted in Yik Yak posts after she strongly voiced her concerns about UMW’s rugby team “engaging in chants calling for violence against women, including rape and necrophilia,” according to CNN. Although Mann said she feared for her safety in response to the harassing “yaks,” it is unclear if her murder was connected to the Yik Yak harassment, according to CNN.

“(UMW) denied (Feminists United) request to shut down access to Yik Yak on campus, citing First Amendment concerns,” the article said.

The College of Idaho senate voted to ban Yik Yak from their campus in March due to “misuse,” according to College Candy. College of Idaho requested for Yik Yak to install a “geo-fence” to disable the app on campus, which the company has installed around certain middle schools and high schools to prevent bullying.

However, Yik Yak has not responded to the College of Idaho’s request, according to the Idaho Statesman. If Yik Yak does not respond to the College of Idaho’s request, the school’s IT department will ban the app on the college’s wireless network, according to College Candy.

Other universities have banned the app from their wireless network, including Saint Louis University, according to The College Fix.

“(SLU’s) leaders described the move as ‘symbolic,’” The College Fix stated, since the campus cannot ban Yik Yak use from students who use their data program to engage in activity on the app.

SLU is not the only university who has tried to encourage their students to “live about the Yak,” according to The College Fix. In fact, several students are no longer able to use their college’s wireless network to use Yik Yak. Augustana College in Illinois, Utica College in New York, and Norwich University in Vermont have all “symbolically” removed Yik Yak from their campus.

Yik Yak co-founder Brooks Buffington released a blog post today around 10 a.m. where it addressed its concern for MU.

“Just like the rest of you, we’ve been following the recent events at University of Missouri and we’ve felt a mix of inspiration, disappointment, hope, and sadness at what the Mizzou community has been going through,” the post stated. “Ultimately, we’ve been impressed by the strength of the student body during an extremely tough time.”

Yik Yak went on to share how their app is meant for positive conversation only, and the company hopes, “that the range of discussion on MU’s campus can help to bring about positive resolution and a better understanding within the community.”

If an individual finds a “yak” to be offensive or inappropriate they can do the following:

  • report the “yak” for whatever the individual deems suitable
  • The individual is then able to choose if they would like to mute the user they are reporting.

Also, if a “yak” reaches five downvotes, Yik Yak automatically removes the yak. “There’s a saying that we always keep in mind on our team: With our thoughts we make the world,” the post said. “Let’s be sure we’re making a good world, starting with the communities around us.”

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