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Students should be careful of their actions in college

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To be safe from situations similar to Kavanaugh's, college students should be very careful of what they do so their behavior is not used against them.
To be safe from situations similar to Kavanaugh's, college students should be very careful of what they do so their behavior is not used against them.
Illustration by Jeffrey Follender

Brett Kavanaugh is a drunk. All of the political cartoons and articles were made to portray him this way. 31 years after he had graduated Yale University, his high school and college reputation as a partier, along with his yearbook were now being used against him to bolster the credibility of the accusations made by multiple women of sexual misconduct. No one knows the full truth but these women and Kavanaugh.

To be safe from similar situations, college students should be very careful of what they do so their behavior is not used against them. In the era of social media, this will only get worse.

For prospective students, it starts early. Nearly one third of universities are monitoring social media of the incoming class for admissions purposes. They scan for red flags such as disparaging language, anything related to alcohol and contradictory biographical information. For those applying to schools or looking to apply, one stupid post will ruin any chances regardless of GPA and test scores. Students should check privacy settings, Google themselves and clean up any posts that are even borderline problematic.

One story out of Bowdoin College best illustrates this. A high school senior attended an informational presentation and apparently decided to make fun of other attendees, which the university promptly discovered. This student was denied admission in part because of these remarks. Just this past spring, former Student Government President Connor Clegg was ousted from office after his racially insensitive Instagram posts were made public. No individual should believe they are above getting caught because it is becoming increasingly more common and claiming you were a dumb high schooler is not a good enough argument.

It’s not just high schoolers who are having this problem. Employers are more often looking into prospective employees’ backgrounds, including checking their social media. They too will put red flags over any pictures they find provocative, drinking/drug use, any inflammatory comments about race or previous employees and even if you post too much, in their opinion. The sad part is that employers also do not like it if there is no social media presence. Students have to walk the line of engaging on these platforms but with the right behavior.

This is not as hard as it sounds. Students create their online reputation. There will not be one hundred percent control of situations, but it is not too hard to check yourself and make sure that social media posts stay appropriate. Be wary of any recording device at any event where the behavior might make you look bad. All it takes is one fun night partying and drinking with friends to hit social media and lose control of the whole situation. Do not let one night get spread around and ruin any chance for any career.

It is not just social media that one has to be worried about. Much like Kavanaugh’s situation, the people who surround someone will remember events. A drunken night that involved a fight will likely be remembered for quite some time. A reputation can be permanently harmed by the actions taken in a college environment. Even joining a fraternity with a history of bad actions could do long term damage. Your reputation is created by your actions and associations.

Sometimes, it is hard in college to think for the long plan but one must make choices carefully. There is no harm in weighing something out. College can still be fun and prepare students for success. Everything done during this time is weighed against someone. Grades, extracurricular events and even social events will all be considered in today’s age. Anything you do in college can and will be used against you.

– Jordan Drake is a communications senior

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