On January 29, 2007, a Fordham junior decided to start a blog. It wasn't a career blog, like the ones I teach my classes about. It was about college life--the gossip and campus micro-celebrity, micro-infamay, controversy... The whole campus was reading, and so were many of the recent alumni.
The administration was reading, too... probably not happily either. Oh, it was never really anything that bad--but it was up for all to see. The internet provided a window into the world campus administrators always knew existed, but never really got to read about in public on a daily basis.
The popularity of the blog was unprecendented. There wasn't a student on campus who didn't know about it. It became part of the weekend routine to e-mail the blog with the latest tales of collegiate debauchery. It's popularity even spread to young alumni... and I'll admit, at least one faculty member.
Sixteen months and 423 posts later, a captivated campus--a community, rather, read FUrez Hilton's final post. He graduated and decided to say goodbye.
I'll repost some of that message below, because it was really touching, but what I really want to bring up is the question of what a blog like this means for communication between students and administration.
I talked to a school administrator the other day about Facebook. She said she had never been on it because she was concerned about potentially viewing illegal activities . What would she do if she saw photos of students drinking?
So, acknowledging that students probably do post photos of themselves drinking, rather than accept the reality of college life--which no doubt she participated in when she was in school--or engage in conversation with the students about it in an open way, she chose not to engage at all. She chose not participate in a medium of communication used by 95% of the students on the campus, because she might see some photos of kids drinking.
This is why students don't visit counseling centers, they don't meet with their class deans, and they don't show up at the career office--because at the end of the day, most administrators go home to a life outside of campus and would rather pretend that the student's life on campus--in all its gory reality, didn't exist.
Well, thanks to FUrez Hilton, it couldn't be escaped. I applaud the author for being authentic and true to themselves the entire time, no matter what anyone thought.
What I hope is that future Fordham voices that are magnified by social media, no matter how controversal, are engaged. If I were some of the administrators spoken about on this blog, I'd start my own blog. I'd give the student body some insight into the difficulties of my position, because, frankly, it's not an easy task. Students at every college are going to feel like it's a case of "us vs. them". That's only going to get worse when you only hear the voice of "us" and never from "them".
Let this whole FUrez era be a lesson in communication--that one student was singlehandedly able to captivate a campus of thousands, to help build a sense of community--all with a dinky little Blogspot blog. I hope that school administrations all over think hard about how they talk with (not to, or at) their students, and what they can learn from what they're hearing. Why do the students complain? What are they upset about? What makes them happy? If I were an administrator, I'd look at this blog like the best thing that could ever happen to my relationship with my students--because it would have given me the chance to understand, to participate. I doubt it will be looked at that way, and that a collective sigh of relief will be breathed, and an opportunity will be missed.
And now, FUrez's last post... Best of luck!
"This is the hardest thing I will
ever have to do in my life. Scratch that, adopting an asian baby with
Eric Stafstrom will be the hardest thing, and that's because there are
damaging pictures of him on Facebook. This website started as a joke
and a way for me to vent my frustrations with the silliness of this
Univeristy. (hint: I havent gone to bed since parent appreciation
dinner and there may be mispellings. i will correct them later. get off
my babies in the underclasses: please behave next year, but not too
much. Make sure you carry my legacy on and question authority. Please
don't be afraid to be yourselves. My biggest regret at Fordham is that
I didn't come out earlier. I know this isn't the case for everyone,
because not EVERYONE is a homo, but it's an example of waiting too long
to enjoy yourslef. The past two years have been teh most liberating of
my life, because I finally realized that A) everyone knew I was a homo,
and B) I was finally comfortable in my own skin. Dont let the small
mindedness of Fordham's silly administration or ignorant classmates
stop you from doing whatever is in your hearts. If you want to go to a
bar in the city, GO. If you want to tell the girl of your dreams that
she is the most beautiful girl on the face of the earth, GO. If you
want to make out with a guy with a bad reputation, FUCKING GO. You have
four years before you are held accountable for your actions. All I ask
is that you take advantage of it. Please. Make FUrez proud.Also,
when you see lost freshmen next year, take them under your wings and
show them the way. When I was a wee freshman, i was walking aimlessly
in the bronx with a group of fifty (as you all do as freshmen) and a
group of upper classmen shouted to us from their apt to come upstairs
and they told us where to go and where to have fun. This resonated with
me all four years of college. Look out for each other. God knows the
administration isn't. Casino night? Come on.To
my seniors graduating with me: It's been a fucking honor attending this
university with you for the past four years. Every single one of you
has taught me something. Even the ones who hate me and think I am the
cockiest piece of shit in the world. It's true. I am a cocky piece of
shit, but it's you who have kept me grounded through my rise to the
top. I can't believe I just wrote "rise to the top". Like i said, I am
a god damn mess right now. To the people I didn't get a chance to meet:
I wish you the best. To the people who were there for me through all of
my ridiculous bullshit: THANK YOU. I have faith that the class of 2008
will do great things. Actually, I don't need faith, because I know that
you are all fucking superstars. Every single one of you. Even if it's
figuring out how to steal bottles of alcohol from drinking
establishments; that alone has demonstrated your commitment to a good
life and your inginuity. You are all fucking fabulous. JEsus christ
it's 7:24 at the moment and I'm writing this.To
most of the administration and faculty: Thank you. The jesuits have
kept it real all four years and shown dedication to their ministry and
calling in life. You are all superstars as well. To the members of the
administration who feel the need to compensate for their own issues
throughout their lives via their positions of power: take a good look
at your job descriptions and rethink what you're doing in your offices.
Know that you are here for US. You are only employed because students
attend this university. Try and work with us. I know the sections of
administration that are viewed unfavorably by the Fordham community
(this includes faculty) are those that cater directly to students. You
wer eall up Dean Grey's ass at the JASPA Convention and were all
consequently promoted to offices of high power. Use your power for
GOOD. The students are totally willing to compromise, but you need to
be too. You have a great amount of egg on your faces from numerous
debacles this year. Included: SPRING WEEKEND, the counseling and health
services here, and your general attitudes towards the people who pay
your salaries. This University is not the one from Animal House. You
don't need to act like Dean Vernon Warner. These kids just want to
graduate and get an education and have fun doing it. Don't rain on
the issue of succession of this blog: I honestly feel that it was a
great moment in time, and that it shoudl end here. I know my cunty fans
will try and replicate it. I encourage that. Send me your efforts. If I
feel someone is following the same path I did, I will post the link
here. However, I'm a bitch and my ego is huge, and the odds of me
thinking your humorous writings are worthy of the entire Fordham
community (alumni included) are slim. Understand that I'm not ruling it
crying kind of because this is it. Please know that I love you all, and
I will always be watching. Thank you for the words of encouragement and
teh death threats. They all mean a lot ot me. The encouragement more
than the death threats, yes, but I love you all. I approved a comment
thanking me a few posts back saying they felt like they were included
in a big inside joke, and that made my day, because all I've ever
wanted is for everyone to feel like they are apart of the Fordham
community. I have been listening to depressing friendship music all day
and night and realized that Fordham University was the best decision I
have ever made. Every memory I have from this place will be cherished,
and I will never forget any of them. To any of you students who know
how to party and go out on the nights when the Ram Van stops at 12: I
have a swell apartment and you all have an open invitation to stay
WHENEVER. I'm serious. My facebook sends all messages to my phone, so
just let me know, and you can crash on my couch.
In the words of
Eva Peron: My greatest fear in life is to be forgotten. Don't forget
me. I will never forget you. I love and respect every single one of you.