Published on April 9, 2016 | by Drew Yorke-Slader Photography by Jan Vašek0
Students question Guelph-Humber’s social media policies following recent local crime
Recent incidents of crime near the University of Guelph-Humber have some students asking why the university does not address the incidents on social media.
On Nov. 17, 2015, a fatal shooting occurred at Alba Place, approximately 350m from the Humber College North campus shared by the two schools. Humber College addressed the shooting on social media saying it was an “off campus incident” and “no “immediate threat to the campus community.” However, Guelph-Humber did not address the incident on social media.
Ravneet Grewal, first year business student at Guelph-Humber, said the university should address emergency situations on social media because it shares a campus with Humber. “If Humber were to tweet something, Guelph-Humber could easily retweet it and carry on the messages to students,” she said.
Rob Kilfoyle, director of public safety at Humber College, and David Lee, director of campus community police at the University of Guelph, both said social media is an important part of emergency notification. Lee said, “The social media apps are the most effective because students are on them all the time now. Social media is the most effective way to get the message out.”
Grant Kerr, campus registrar at Guelph-Humber, said in an email: “The University of Guelph-Humber follows the protocol of Humber College’s Public Safety office – if an official notification is sent to Humber students, the University of Guelph-Humber would place the notification on its website and send an email to all students.”
Most recently, Sandip Rai, fourth year business student at Guelph-Humber, said social media would have been effective when addressing the armed robbery of a Humber student on Apr. 2, 2016 on Humber College Blvd. “They posted a notice on the doors and didn’t post anything on social media,” said Rai. “As a student going here, I want to know and be aware of everything that’s going on – especially for my safety.”
Looking at both Humber and Guelph-Humber social media accounts (Twitter and Facebook), Humber addressed five police investigations on or near campus between Nov. 17, 2015 and Apr. 2, 2016 while Guelph-Humber did not address any.
Laurie de Fleuriot de la Colinière, alumni advancement coordinator at Guelph-Humber, said “all postings on Guelph-Humber social media are composed and posted by student ‘social media assistants.’” De Fleuriot de la Colinière oversees the student and alumni social media accounts for the university. The official Guelph-Humber social media accounts (@guelphhumber) are overseen by the liaison communications coordinator at Guelph-Humber who declined to comment on this subject.
De Fleuriot de la Colinière said Guelph-Humber defers to the University of Guelph’s social media guidelines. “We unofficially defer to that policy as to etiquette and different rules but it doesn’t really walk us through emergency situations,” she said.
De Fleuriot de la Colinière said the university has formed a digital communications committee working towards a formalized social media policy. She said the topic of emergency communication came up at one of the committee’s most recent meetings and is one of their big concerns. “We’re pulling some bigger people – ‘the big wigs’ – into the conversation to get a little more opinion on the issue and how we can move forward,” said de Fleuriot de la Colinière.
She said the committee is in a “discovery phase” and has only been meeting for a few months. “We’ve come leaps and bounds with our social media but there’s still lots of room for us to grow,” said de Fleuriot de la Colinière.
Requests for interviews with the acting manager of Guelph Humber digital communications and web services were declined.