MAILEY: Administration response to fight videos justified

BY SAM MAILEY
[email protected]

It’s so easy to document our lives, but this isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Phone cameras are convenient for capturing spur-of-the-moment events – a baby’s first words, unexpected celebrity sightings, school fights. 

For life’s spontaneity, technology has our bac – wait, did I include school fights in that list? Yes.
About two weeks ago a video surfaced of a school fight in Sacramento, in which the school’s principal tried to intervene. Understandable for the principal to help break up a fight, but in this case, rather than back off, the student grabbed the principal, threw him to the side and continued fighting.

Also understandable was the mass of students crowding the scene, phone cameras readily recording. Also understandable was the attention from social media the video drew, being reposted on popular fight accounts on Twitter and on other social media platforms, I’m sure, even earning a spot on some national news programs.

The student who posted the video was suspended for three days, which came as a surprise to some who believe it was the student’s right under the first amendment to post the video.

I’m not going to get into the argument regarding who’s responsible for the student’s suspension, because it’s the student’s fault.

People have faced disciplinary action, sometimes legal action, for recording and posting school fight videos online, so when students still decide to share the videos, they should and probably do know the risks of their decisions. Students should understand their responsibility for their posts online, and not pretend to be victims when it comes to administrative action for something they chose to post, especially a video of students fighting.

Moreover, fight videos are rarely posted in good spirit, speaking against the violence shown. Social media, Twitter mainly, is home to accounts created solely to collect and post videos of people fighting, which encourage the violent culture that students participate in by contributing to the accounts’ content.

I’m not sure how much clearer administrators can be in communicating intolerance for violent school videos’ online publication than by suspending and expelling students who choose to post.

The crowds of students won’t stop forming around school fights, and as long as this is true, phone cameras won’t be kept away from the action, either. With these truths, school administration is left with few options to prevent further exploitation of violence other than disciplinary action.
Examples of exploitative material run rampant on Twitter, which is partly known for its lenient content filter, but they also serve as proof that either there’s a disparity of communication between administration and students, or students are more interested with online popularity than they are their academics.

Students decide to share and tweet and post these videos seemingly mindlessly, without a rational thought crossing their minds before hitting “send,” which isn’t necessarily the student’s malicious intent prevailing.

Smartphones are convenient for spur-of-the-moment events like school fights, but this isn’t always for the better. When in a situation like a school fight, a student’s judgement isn’t going to be on its A-game. In these moments, when adrenaline hijacks rational thinking abilities. A student can’t be expected to make the right decision, but the popular decision, which is “send, post, share.”

It’s sad that sharing has become almost as automatic to us as it is to the phone itself, and this direct connection to the entire world is a tempting path for a student who just shot 30 seconds of guaranteed viral gold.

Now, just because a student might struggle to make proper decisions in the moment doesn’t mean they didn’t make a conscious decision to not only attend the fight, but pull out their phone and start recording. This action is inexcusable and more deserving of disciplinary action than posting the video.

One video that surfaced around the same time online showed an officer using what many saw as excessive force on a student, who wasn’t resisting. It seemed this video made headlines and caught far more attention than the principal bodyslam video.

Posting videos like these are the exception to violent content on social media because it served more than just to entertain people.
Regardless the consequences that followed for the student who posted the video of the cop using excessive force, the video was posted in effort to raise awareness of police brutality.

These types of postings are excusable because of the intentions of the post, which don’t have a shock factor motivating their publication.
The issue with most violent videos online is they are posted with no intent other than to gain popularity, so the punishments are usually well avoidable.