Students offer advice after K-State has a ‘trending’ fall semester on social media

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After a semester of social media controversey, the Collegian takes a look back at K-State's 2016 fall semester on social media.

From the racist snapchat in September to the 4.0 freshman dropout in December with the Kit Kat thief in between, Kansas State had its fair share of trending time via social media throughout the last semester.

While the Kit Kat thief brought in a sense of family when 6,500 candy bars were given out in front of Haymaker Hall, the racist snapchat and student dropout sparked divisive conversations about diversity, inclusion and the value of a higher education.

Jessica Van Ranken, student body president and senior in political science, said she was able to use the social media attention to better amplify the messages she and the K-State Student Governing Association have been working on.

“I think the fact that things can go viral easily nowadays, it definitely impacts the college experience in general for any student who engages with social media, which I think is probably most of us,” Van Ranken said. “In my role, it’s something I think about as it’s power to amplify important messages that maybe didn’t have as strong as an impact before.”

For Van Ranken and the student government leadership, it has been a way to continue conversations about diversity and inclusion within their diversity platform as well as conversation about the ever-increasing costs of higher education in the state of Kansas during a time of budget cuts.

“When posts like that go viral and statements regarding higher education go viral, I think it’s important to think about what can we learn from that as an institution,” Van Ranken said. “How do we not just dismiss comments that maybe don’t align with our views of higher education and how do we not dismiss those, but rather make it a productive conversation with what can we learn to make it meaningful and affordable?”

Van Ranken said social media has been a powerful way to connect with students, especially when students tweet them their concerns.

“The posts definitely created more conversation and action about whether or not our climate at K-State really is inclusive and welcoming,” Van Ranken said. “Experiences of racism do happen here at K-State, as well as many places in the world, unfortunately.”

“It has been a topic of conversation and this is an example that we still have a lot to do in our campus community to improve the climate here at K-State and making it so students are culturally aware and sensitive, and to create a climate that is welcoming,” Van Ranken continued.

Social media student insight

Caitlyn Sabbert, junior in mass communications, said she knows a thing or two about social media after taking K-State’s social media management class over the winter intersession. She was able to apply the knowledge from that class to the real-life experiences she saw, which connected K-State to social media.

“Literally any time of day anyone can see what you post, which really opened my eyes to the possibility of anyone knowing who you are based on your social media,” Sabbert said. “People will recognize you are affiliated to K-State through your social media and what your actions were. Maybe those who made those posts had a lack of sense of who they are as a person and I’m sure they will regret their actions they took on social media and how that affected K-State as a whole.”

Kalene Lozick, senior in agricultural communications and journalism, also took the social media class over winter intersession and felt the K-State posts are a prime example to remember who you are and what you stand for before you post something.

“Make sure that whatever you post is in a good light,” Lozick said. “Whatever you post is published for life. Whatever you post should reflect your own personal brand.”

After completing the social media class, Sabbert now recommends that students have both a professional and a personal account on social media, or to at least keep their personal accounts professional.

“Have an account that’s professional on social media and then don’t post anything that you think you might regret one day,” Sabbert said. “If it’s the slightest bit iffy, if you’re even slightly hesitant, I highly recommend not posting it at all. Keep your social media clean and professional. Your future bosses might be looking at your social media and that can be the deciding factor on if you get the job or not.”

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Kaitlyn Alanis
Hi, I'm Kaitlyn Alanis, former news editor for the Collegian and a May 2017 graduate in agricultural communications and journalism. I have never tried a hamburger and I hate the taste of coffee, but I love writing stories and sharing what I learn with our readers. By writing for the Collegian, I can now not only sing along when the K-State Band plays "The Band is Hot," but I also know that most agriculture students did not grow up on a farm, how to use an AED to save someone's life and why there is a bust of MLK Jr. outside of Ahearn Field House. Thanks for reading!