Who is the hottest couple on Yale’s campus? Yale College Council President Rebecca Taber ’08 and star running back Mike McLeod ’09 — at least according to JuicyCampus.com.
The Web site, launched last August by 2005 Duke University graduate Matt Ivester, allows students at almost 60 colleges to anonymously start threads and post comments.
Students at several colleges across the country have expressed concern about the Web site, which they say provides an anonymous forum on which to bash classmates. But response to the site at Yale has been relatively muted, likely because many Elis are unaware of its existence.
The Student Government Association at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., passed a resolution last month encouraging the school’s administration to bar the online forum from the campus network. And after a student posted a thread in which he threatened to shoot people at Loyola Marymount University in December, outraged students there founded an 860-member Facebook group entitled “Ban JuicyCampus.”
Those efforts to outlaw the Web site come at a time when two Yale Law School students are pursuing legal action against anonymous posters to AutoAdmit.com — an online discussion forum for those applying to law schools — for allegedly libelous comments added to that site in 2006 and early last year.
But JuicyCampus has not provoked a similar response among undergraduates here, despite the presence on the site of threads that target individual students. Posters to the site have mentioned specific student names in discussions such as “craziest bitch on the Yale campus” and “most overrated person at Yale.”
Ivester could not be reached for comment over the weekend.
Until contacted by the News, Gary DeTurck ’08, whom posters to the Web site have proclaimed the “most eligible bachelor at Yale,” said he had never visited JuicyCampus.
“It’s not hard to imagine a forum like JuicyCampus getting out of hand, and frankly I’d be happier if it didn’t exist or if Yale weren’t a part of it,” DeTurck wrote in an e-mail.
Clay Turner ’08, who, according to one JuicyCampus thread, is “most likely to be president,” also was previously unaware of the site’s existence. But he said the concept of the site does not bother him, since he is “pretty pro-free speech.”
According to JuicyCampus’ FAQ page, those who wish to remove a comment have little to no recourse. The FAQ page admonishes users concerned about the truthfulness of items posted on the site to consider whether statements are fact or opinion.
“Facts can be untrue. Opinions can be stupid, or ignorant, or mean-spirited, but they can’t be untrue,” the page reads. Those who object to posts on factual grounds are instructed to give the posts “a big thumbs down” by clicking an icon next to the post to express disapproval.
While a hand gesture may seem to some students to be an unsatisfying response to public defamation, there is little that students can legally do to combat slander on JuicyCampus, said Lynn LoPucki, a professor at the UCLA School of Law. Since the Web site’s operators are protected against liability, she said, it is difficult to track down anonymous posters to bring them to court.
Lawyers for the law students targeted on AutoAdmit gained approval from a judge last month to subpoena Internet service providers in the hopes of identifying 39 anonymous posters to that site.