Michigan State University bans whiteboards … say, what?

This one gave me a false-positive flashback …

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First, the flashback…

When we moved into our new business school building a decade ago (yeah, it has been that long), I was assigned a new office.

It was at the end of a corridor (as far away from the academic action as they could put me) with a clear view of the building’s commercially-sized air conditioners and the Jesuit graveyard (no kidding).

One complete wall in the office was floor-to-ceiling with book shelves.

Since I only had 6 books (5 of them borrowed), I took out all but the top book shelf (which was suitable for displaying memorabilia) and installed a self-purchased whiteboard (a necessity, right?).

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In short order, I got visit from the Dean.

One of my colleagues had ratted me out for making an unauthorized alteration to my office.

Apparently, my whiteboard had violated some common law community standards.

I got off with a slap on the wrist (remember, Gtown is a Catholic school) … but still have occasional nightmares.

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OK, fast forward to today in Lansing, Michigan where whiteboards are now officially contraband.

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According to AOL News and the Detroit Daily News

At Michigan State University, the whiteboard’s days are numbered.

That’s not because they’re useless, but because they’re being banned.

Michigan State has had whiteboards on the doors of its dorm rooms for years so roommates could leave each other easily erase-able notes.

The boards typically are viewed as a way to bring lightheartedness to the dorm.

However, the university is banning the boards because, apparently, college students know how to write mean words.

The university will remove the whiteboards ahead of next fall in an effort to prevent negative, anonymous messages.

University officials say that “In any given month, there are several incidents … sometimes the messages are racial, sometimes they’re sexual in nature.”

But they concede: “There is no straw the broke the camel’s back … and there has been no uptick in incidents.”

“But, these are mostly activities of opportunity … there’s a ready writing surface and a pen right there inviting abuse.”

Officials acknowledge that the ban likely will not dissuade people determined to leave harmful messages through other avenues.

Instead, eliminating the boards is meant to address impulsive scribbles.

The student reaction:

“Banning whiteboards is unnecessary. People are going to say things no matter what, whether it’s to their faces or on a whiteboard, it’s just something you can’t always control”

In other words, paraphrasing the 2nd Amendment refrain:

Whiteboards don’t bully, mean people do.

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One Response to “Michigan State University bans whiteboards … say, what?”

  1. SJ Says:

    At G-Town (Jesuit but hardly Catholic anymore), I am sure they directed you through the way of discernment and dialogue to remove the “offending” white board because it disrupted the sense of “community” among fellow academics.

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