Aug 22, 2013
05:23 AMThe Connecticut Story
Social Media Policies for Students in Wake of Torrington Rape Cases Prompt Backlash
Jessica Glenza/Register Citizen
Mike McKenna, left, presented the draft athletic department handbook to the board of education. Board member Paul Cavagnero criticized the policy for not going far enough.
On Wednesday, Torrington Board of Education members discussed a preliminary Athletic Department handbook, which suggests limits on social media for student-athletes.
Under the proposed policy, posting belittling and “mean-spirited” comments about coaches and staff, or using “derogatory language” to “describe someone's race, gender, [or] sexual orientation,” will be punished. Additionally, posts consumption of illicit drugs or alcohol will also be punished.
After the policy was discussed, and ultimately sent to committee by board members, Twitter lit up with comments from current and former Torrington High School students calling the policy a violation of free speech.
“We have emailed the [ACLU] regarding the latest THS athletics policy that may infringe upon student's free speech, we're awaiting a reply,” wrote the Commission for Students Rights. The account is administered by two former Torrington High School students. “Its not the job of educators to dictate what is posted on social media,” wrote the commission.
“To any athletes in THS, look at the new policy regarding social media. Watch what you post. Even swearing can get you suspended,” wrote Bradley Nichols, swim team member and president of the high school's senior class.
Several passages refer to “inappropriate” or “offensive” material being possibly punishable in the proposed update.
“Posting anything on any internet website that portrays inappropriate, offensive or illegal behavior,” can cause an athlete to be sanctioned for two weeks for the first offense, and the rest of the season or year for the second.
Students are asked to “refrain from taunting, booing, heckling, and the use of profanity in any manner.” Nichols also wrote that he felt athletes were singled out in the policy.