Illinois College, a private liberal arts school in Jacksonville, Illinois, banned the social media app Yik Yak from its campus Wi-Fi network weeks ago. But some students are still using it.
The app allows users within a limited geographical radius to post comments anonymously, and then up- or down-vote posts with which they agree or disagree. It’s popular with college students, and many campuses have seen protests over racist, misogynistic and bigoted comments despite Yik Yak’s attempts to encourage civility.
Because Yik Yak is only available as an app, and not a website, colleges have little control over it. “Banning” the app means students can’t access it while using campus Wi-Fi — but they can as long as they’re willing to turn off Wi-Fi on their phones and switch to using their data plan.
The college’s student government passed a resolution in February urging the school to block access to Yik Yak on its wireless network, the Jacksonville Journal-Courier reported Monday. The administration complied, citing posts that were “bullying, hateful, intolerant, harassing or threatening and fall far from our pledge … to ‘foster tolerance and respect in our community.'” Illinois College’s president called for the ban to go into effect on March 14.
Not every student was on board.
Four weeks later, the app lives on, although it’s quieter than it used to be.
“We realize that students still have access to the social media application by using their own mobile data plan and that a small group of students still utilize it,” Stephanie Elpers Chipman, a spokeswoman for Illinois College, wrote in an email to The Huffington Post on Tuesday.
“We also realize that our close proximity to another college in town blends posts from all students in a five mile radius,” she continued. “But it was important to the Illinois College campus community to come together on this issue and made a clear statement to one another in support our Affirmation of Community Responsibility, to promote inclusivity and foster respect.”
Chipman pointed out that Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, blocked Yik Yak in December 2014. Today, the school’s feed is a ghost town.
UPDATE, April 12, 10:10 p.m.: Due to an error with the Yik Yak app earlier, a screenshot was included showing that there were no Yaks for Augustana College. When we checked it later, it turned out there were plenty of Yaks at Augustana, despite the apparent ban by the college from its WiFi.