The university-run “SVSU I’M BOSS” Facebook group will be shut down and deleted by the end of the day Monday, Oct. 16, according to administration officials tasked with the group’s oversight.
The 5,500-member group was originally created by the Academic Advising Center as a first-year student retention program. According to a statement provided by Academic Advising Director Daniel Strasz and Director of Web Communications Jason Swackhamer, it will be replaced by two new groups that will be open only to first-year and transfer students.
“These groups will only be open to these respective cohorts, and they will be archived following each academic year,” the administrators stated.
Once I’M BOSS is closed, University Communications plans to direct students toward SVSU’s Facebook page for general information requests and to existing channels for specific event information.
“These existing channels include Student Life’s weekly events email blast, Student Association’s Potty Postings, SVSU Engage (formerly known as OrgSync) and various web-based events calendar feeds,” Strasz and Swackhamer stated.
The status of I’M BOSS has been unclear to students for months due to a freeze on admissions to the group and the removal of the original group administrator’s account in February. The group has grown and evolved since it was created in 2010 and now serves as a sort of all-purpose SVSU-related social hub for its users.
Strasz and Swackhamer cited multiple reasons that administration officials shut the group down, including the creeping scope of the group’s content and the reputation damage of any inappropriate content on I’M BOSS being officially associated with the university.
“As the administrators of the I’M BOSS group, SVSU is responsible for all content on the pages, even when it does not reflect our values,” the administrators stated.
Discussions among administration officials on what should be done with I’M BOSS began after the Academic Advising Center lost administrator control over the group from February to June of this year.
“The decision regarding the future of I’M BOSS was taken very seriously by university administration beginning this summer,” Strasz and Swackhamer stated. “Several meetings about the future of I’M BOSS occurred with groups that included faculty, staff, administration and student representatives.”
The shared office Facebook account that Academic Advising was using to administer the group was deleted for violations of Facebook’s terms of service. Facebook requires users to create accounts under their own real names.
“These accounts were reported to Facebook, who then shut them down, leaving the group without administrators from February to July of this year,” the administrators stated. “When Facebook removed administrative rights to the group this past year, it removed our ability to add or remove new users.”
According to Strasz and Swackhamer, attempts by Academic Advising to regain administrator power over the group were unsuccessful until this summer. Once Academic Advising regained control of I’M BOSS, oversight over the group was given to University Communications.
“University Communications was assigned administrative rights due to their role as the social media monitors for the university,” the administrators stated.
Under University Communications, I’M BOSS has Swackhamer, Assistant Director of Web Communications Holly Larose-Roenicke and another administration-owned account named “A.C. Valley” set as administrators.
A.C. Valley functions as a shared office account for Academic Advising, run by Strasz and Director of Orientation Programs Rachel Florence-Spaetzel. The account has been used to remove posts and ban users. Academic Advising created the account to shield SVSU administrators from being contacted directly on their personal Facebook accounts by anyone unhappy with a moderation decision.
“People were responding directly to the University Communications employees’ personal accounts, and that became problematic,” Strasz said.
The administrators maintain that despite the deletion of I’M BOSS, the university remains committed to respecting the free speech rights of students. Their statement recognized that I’M BOSS served as a forum for occasional discussion of social issues and hopes students continue these discussions after I’M BOSS is gone.
“As an institution, SVSU and its staff value the role of free speech at the university in discussing these issues,” their statement read. “It is our hope that students will continue to discuss these social issues beyond I’M BOSS with respect to each other’s ideas and points of view.”