Artwork Abigail Scharf
At the start of the 2017-2018 school year the Eagle Valley High School administration decided to give the Student Handbook a makeover with a new cover and a brand new Social Media Policy in response to the state cyberbullying law passed in 2015.
The Colorado state law requires, “Public schools to take action to prevent and address cyberbullying.”
The new social media policy was delayed in getting into the Student Handbook until this year because of “Lag time,” according to Principal Greg Doan.
Athletic Director Tamara Payne compiled the new policy because, “We get law updates every year, and social media was a big piece of the conversation.”
Payne explains, “I wrote it for us, but I took it from lawyer speak and put it into kid speak.”
The Eagle Valley Administration copied and pasted the policy used for the Athletic Handbook to the Student Handbook, explained Doan. As such, the social media policy frequently addresses student athlete’s behavior, not necessarily the other students in the building.
For example, the policy says, “Eagle Valley High School will not tolerate disrespectful comments and behavior online such as: Derogatory language or remarks that are harmful to teammates or coaches; other EVHS student athletes, teachers, or coaches; student athletes, coaches or representatives from other schools including comments that may be disrespectful to opposing teams, officials, or spectators.”
So while the policy condemns disrespectful behavior online, it specifies consequences if the behavior targets athletes or adults involved in athletics.
Students and student athletes lack awareness of the new policy. According to a survey on student awareness of the new student policies conducted by Eagle Valley Student Media’s reporter Jadin Trujillo in September, over 50% of the 137 students and student athletes surveyed expressed they did not know about the new student media policy.
Freshman Aidan Duffey says, “No. I don’t know what the policy is. I don’t know if I’m unaware or if it hasn’t been put out or shared with the school.”
Those students who shared on the survey that they were aware of the policy said they had heard of it from a friend or family member, but no one we spoke to in person had heard of the policy to share how they heard of it.
But sophomore Abdi Valenzuela says it’s important students learn about the policy because “I think the school should explain it. Bullying is a big deal.”
Publishing the policy in the Student Handbook alone might not be the most effective way to share this policy to inform students.
“Not everyone reads the Student Handbook,” explains freshman Brian Garcia. “So, only the couple people who read it know about the policy.”
As social media continues to grow in impact, the school will have ensure that students are aware of the social media policy.