MCCC joins students in social-networking

You can now become an official “fan” of your school.
MCCC joined the millions of users utilizing the social-networking site Facebook, setting up its very own Facebook page.
The page boasts everything from current news releases to upcoming events. It contains pictures of the college’s Blues Brothers float from the 2009 Monroe County Fair Parade. It even aids in the search for new volleyball club members and helps seek out students to assist with MCCC’s accreditation process.
Joe Verkennes, MCCC’s director of marketing, is in charge of running the page.
“We chose Facebook because it’s the emerging social-networking site,” Verkennes said.
MCCC did a student survey about which types of media students use, and Facebook won, he said.
“Facebook is another resource in the toolbox of communication in the community,” he said. “I use it to publicize events on campus and to communicate with students.”
Recently, Verkennes sent out a note about a story on MCCC’s record enrollment in the Toledo Blade. He was also able to advertise the upcoming Tim Cavanagh comedian show with a video clip—a feat impossible in print media.
MCCC fans are then able to “like” the post or comment on it.
“It’s an open site; we allow people to post photos and write comments,” Verkennes said.
Because it is such an open site, a lot of organizations are struggling with how to go about utilizing it.
“So far we have had no instances of inappropriate posts,” he said.
He added, “But if someone did, I could remove it instantaneously.”
In addition to posts from Verkennes, other organizations have used MCCC’s Facebook page to advertise by writing their event or other information on MCCC’s “wall,” the area where comments are displayed on Facebook.
The site requires some upkeep by Verkennes. He routinely checks for inappropriate postings, posts new press releases, and keeps the site’s calendar up-to-date.
As of Oct. 13, MCCC’s Facebook page had over 462 members.
“We get about 10 or 12 new fans a day,” Verkennes said.
Verkennes has access to a graph that shows the dates when MCCC gained the most fans. For the most part, he can correlate the peaks in popularity to something he did, for example, adding the Facebook bug on the college’s website.
MCCC’s fans include faculty and students alike.
“In the very beginning, when I launched the page, I emailed faculty and invited them to become a fan—a lot of them are,” he said.
MCCC students have mixed opinions about the page.
“I believe that having a Facebook group dedicated to MCCC is a pointless cause. I know that when I am on Facebook, I am trying to avoid thinking about school and homework,” Tara Adrian, MCCC student, said.
Other students think the page is a good idea.
“I would add the college on Facebook,” said Nicole Williams, a first-year student at MCCC. “Why? Because I go to school here and I’m proud to go here.”
Individual student groups at MCCC are also taking advantage of what the Facebook site has to offer. The MCCC Writing Fellows, for example, have their own Facebook group. 
“Having a group student page on Facebook is good because then I can meet fellow students, which is hard in college,” said Corynn Evans, an MCCC student and Writing Fellow.
Because a community college campus is a different atmosphere than a university, Facebook has allowed students to keep in touch.
“Facebook is nice because we don’t have a strong social network on campus, and it helps students find each other,” said Tracy Rayl, assistant professor of biology at MCCC.
With the growing popularity of the site expanding beyond young adults, questions have arisen regarding proper Facebook etiquette. For example, can students and faculty become friends on Facebook? Should they?
“There are no policies that I know of that say faculty can’t have a Facebook,” Joe Verkennes said. “I think the best way to handle it is for teachers to have a work one and a personal one and to review the Acceptable Use Policy that comes up every time we turn on our computers.”
“If I had a college-related Facebook, I would definitely use it to keep up with students,” Dr. Joanna Sabo, professor of political science at MCCC, said.
“I have added former students—all of them were Writing Fellows,”  Tim Dillon, associate professor of English and WAC coordinator, said.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for faculty and current students to use Facebook for communication—that could blur the line between faculty and student roles.”
Some faculty don’t have a Facebook at all.
“I don’t have a need for Facebook, really,” Vinnie Maltese, dean of science, math, humanties and social sciences, said. “I’ve gotten emails from students inviting me to Facebook, but I’ve never used them.”
“It’s a time factor. It takes time to keep up with three different email addresses already,” said Khadija Ahmed, assistant professor of mathematics.
MCCC students have their own thoughts about teachers and students being friends on such a site.
“I don’t want my calculus teacher to see my friends and I having a good time,” said Corynn Evans.
“I think it would be weird because it sort of takes away from the teacher’s authority,” said Ashley Morris. “After the student graduates, it would be more appropriate.”
What cannot be ignored is Facebook’s power in social-networking. People, and now even colleges, are finding new ways to utilize what the site has to offer.