Cyberbullying and doxxing handled poorly according to students and faculty

Jackson Stanley and Walker Lezotte

Jon Grunau, [email protected], News Writer

Recent events have led to questions concerning the response to cyberbullying and doxxing incidents on campus, with many sharing their own experiences. 

This is in response to an email sent by the Dean of Student  addressing recent incidents of cyberbullying, as well as resources students could go to for help. 

“We are grateful for the opportunity to challenge our community of peers, colleagues and friends to reevaluate how social media and other online platforms are being used,” said Dean of Students Megan Pugh Title IX Coordinator Heather Lindkvist in their email last February. 

“The email was all about what the students should do, but nothing about what the university is planning to do about it,” said Mark Gibney, professor of political science at UNC Asheville in an interview last February. 

In a series of interviews, several students expressed their own experiences with cyberbullying and how it has affected them. 

“Cyberbullying is something I’ve become more aware of during COVID. I feel like it’s kind of brushed off and not taken seriously, even though it’s becoming more common,” said Kaya Hall, a biology major at UNCA. 

Varied responses were given by the students, with their own experiences backing up their stories. 

“Cyberbullying is whenever you mock or bully someone on a public forum where anyone can read it,” said Emma Appleby, a political science major at UNC Asheville. 

Some students believe it is easier to harass students due to the lack of structure or guidelines in response to these situations. 

“They should definitely be on top of anything pertaining to school or the students inside of it. Some form of protection to protect student’s online,” said Chasity Justice, a history major at UNC Asheville. 

Gibney commented on the politics at play surrounding cyberbullying and why it can be difficult to track down the perpetrators. 

“I teach the First Amendment and I’m an ardent believer in freedom of speech. On the other hand, I do not think people ought to just be punching bags and we should let people say all sorts of defamatory and libelous things against them,” Gibney said. 

Students are not the only ones affected, with past cyberbullying incidents involving faculty members. 

“This isn’t just limited to students,” Gibney said. “I remember a case in the past where a faculty member was doxxed, and there was little done to find who was responsible. We’re all affected by this, both students and faculty.”

Gibney stressed the importance of recognizing limits when it comes to what we say and do online. 

“While I believe in freedom of speech, I don’t believe in defamation,” Gibney said. “We’re all vulnerable, it can’t be amateur hour here.”