Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Do You Have the Right To Bitch About Your Teachers Online?

A STUDENT IN FLORIDA was suspended after creating a facebook page about a teacher she did not get along with. The page was titled, “Ms. Sarah Phelps is the worst teacher I’ve ever had."

The student was suspended for three days even though the page had been deleted. She filed a lawsuit against the principal, arguing that her First Amendment rights were violated. A federal judge recently decided that the case can go to trial.

Do you have the right to bitch about your teachers or anyone else online? Can the person written about demand the complaint be removed? Is online bitching any different than information that appears in print or on television?

What if it was you who was written about negatively online? How would you handle the situation?

19 comments:

Rachel M. Stumpo said...

This is absolutely ridiculous, on what grounds can the school suspend this girl, because she had an opinion? Facebook has no affiliation with the school, the girl can write whatever she likes as long as it's within Facebook's tasteful standards. The only thing the girl can be held accountable for is libel, but since it's an opinion and Facebook is not a news source (social, yes, news no) than there really is no wrong here except for the injustice done to the girl. This is not the first time those homophobes in Florida have gone against people's constitutional rights...I hope this girl sues the shit out of them.

I've had worst done to me than being bitched about online, I am of the internet generation, "online bullying" is nothing new. I'd get over it if i were the teacher, and maybe learn how to deal with criticism a little better.

Danette said...

How is this girl's facebook page any different from all of the students who complain about their teachers on ratemyprofessor.com?
I don't think she should have been suspended from school.

melanieroxanne said...

She could do better than bitch about her teacher on facebook. It is understandable that she has the right to voice her own opinions, but at least do not be outrageously harsh about it that it could also seem as online bullying. If someone was bitching about HER on facebook, she would feel the same way as the teacher. If she doesn't like her teacher and thinks that no one should take the class,go on ratemyprofessor and be professional and mature in her criticism.(she shouldn't be suspended at all or go to court for saying that she doesn't like her teacher. Not everyone likes their teacher).

DaVonne said...

If I could add my two cents...

I think it is stupid that the student was suspended for her opinion. Just give the girl five days detention or something and be done with it. Don't take her out of school. However she did defame her teacher's reputation in a public forum and that is punishable by law. If I'm not mistaken that is called libel or defamation of character. And yes professor online bitching is the same as print or television. Its all public, its just a different medium.


My sister made a good point while reading over my shoulder, maybe if the student didn't mention the teachers name she wouldn't be in the mess she is right now. So I pose this question, is libel still punishable if no name is used?

-an alumni

Anonymous said...

It's ridiculous that she was taken out of her AP classes into less prestigious classes. That's completely irrelevant.

It's not like she created false rumors about the teacher that would have been totally libelous but this is clearly a student's opinion. It's like saying that you think Taylor Swift is currently the worst singer and being sued for it.

Plus, no one really likes their teachers (except you Prof!)

Megan said...

I think that it is completely ridiculous that the girl was suspended for writing on facebook about a teacher. As previously stated, facebook is not a news source, it is a social network. Things like this happen daily. This teacher needs to get thicker skin.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you can necessarily control other people's opinions.
This wasn't threatening in anyway (except maybe to her ego).
Thats what RateMyTeacher.com was created for.
Maybe they should just shut that site down.

If someone had written negatively about me on Facebook I probably would have reported the group and tried to move on.
I agree with Megan that the teacher needs to thicken her skin.
This principal needs to get a clue.

alessandralaura said...

I think that bitching about your teacher online is something that so many students do, it's hard to really take seriously. However, obviously some teachers will get more offended than others. If the facebook page said things that defamed her as a teacher beyond the student realm and affect her career in the professional realm she could possibly have a libel case. But, I doubt that the facebook page was anything more than petty or funny insults that in the long run cause no harm. Suspension for something like that seems extreme.

Sam Kelly said...

I believe that she definitely has a right to post how she feels about her teacher. It falls under the first Amendment, no doubt! Freedom of speech. Just think, since there are blogs about anti-Bush or anti-Obama then she definitely has a right to write how she feels about her teacher. She should not have been suspended.

Berryman, A said...

Truthfully I do not feel like the girl should have gotten in trouble, how is her facebook page in different from sites, such as: ratemyprofessor.com. Even though what she did was not very mature she still has the right to say how she feels about that teacher or anyone else.

Nichole Fray said...

I think its ridiculous that she was suspended for something she put on facebook. As someone said above, i don't see how its different than ratemyporfessor.com. She didn't make any threats to the teacher's life or anything, so I don't see how her opinion constitutes the consequences she is receiving.

Alana Turchi said...

I think a suspension for this student would fit if she was making accusations about the teacher without any proof. I don't think there is any harm in creating a facebook page that you and your classmates would find amusing, but if someone is doing this out of spite and spreading rumors that may not be true about an authority figure in the school then that is wrong.

Gillian Francella said...

So ridiculous! Okay so we can bitch on ratemyprofessors.com but not on Facebook? The whole idea of employers, teachers, or parents looking at a person's Facebook for information is so weird to me. I just don't understand why it matters so much what you do in your personal life or what your opinion is. Are we all supposed to be mindless drones with no life other than our "professional" one? People need an outlet, and for millions Facebook is that.

Jackie said...

I totally agree with Rachel Stumpo. She took the words straight out of my head. Being suspended for voicing your opinion on Facebook is completely absurd. If Facebook was a news source then that may be libel, but it is not libel and the student should not have been suspended. This somewhat reminds me of the school that watched students through the cameras from laptops otherwise borrowed or bought from school (or something along those lines). WRONG.

Jackie said...

Also, to answer the questions...

The person who was written about could (obviously) demand that it is removed but I think that it shouldn't be because Facebook is a social networking site that kids use and definitely nothing professional that should ever hurt the teacher in any way.

But... I've heard that people have gotten in trouble for things that are posted on Facebook or not hired by employers because of something on Facebook. So, if people are really looking at Facebook as a reference to someone's personality, I think that the complaint should definitely be removed. I also think that Facebook and work/school should not be in anyway associated, but clearly that is not the case for many. If an employee/student is good at work/school, but a total wild child/jerk/whatever outside of work/school, that's their business and it shouldn't matter to their jobs or school (and there are always some exceptions).

(This now reminds me of the Tiger Woods scandal.)

Online bitching is okay if where you're bitching at/on is appropriate for it. Print and television is for news, not opinions, so there should be no bitching then. There should also be no bitching on online sites unless it is, of course, opinion based. There are some columns that are opinion based and another obvious example is blogs.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people, including myself, were talking about Rate My Professor and how it differs from this situation.
I just wanted to share this, which they had on their website: "Please keep comments clean. Libelous comments will be deleted."
I guess they do have some guidelines...

Tim Keller said...

I dont really have an opinion, but i can just say people were EXPELLED from my high school for doing the same exact thing.

Francisco Ovalle said...

this is hilarious! how can you suspend a student for that? IT IS WHAT IT IS, probably the professor was a bitch, and we as students have the right to say what we want...OUTSIDE the classroom, i mean, COME ON! its Facebook, first amendment rights violated? please, that women needed attention and she got. pssss
Free of speech people!!! free of speech!!!

Anonymous said...

Brittni M.Baldrich

If I were being bitched about online, I must have done something wrong. BUT if anything I would create a page of my own to protect my personal and perhaps about the person who is bitching about me, bitch about them. Eventually they will stop because people who create heat, does not know how to take heat.