In the face of Yik Yak: A call for action

There are a few telling ways to gain insight into a community.

Amidst an increasingly interconnected world, Yik Yak has come to depict some of our community as hateful, disgusting and medieval in their humor and their values.

This week, Yik Yak, an app that can be best described as an anonymous Twitter for an area within a 1.5 mile radius, has emerged as a phenomenon within the High School. Some have taken to the app and used it as a platform to spread their opinions about the school in a lighthearted, satirical manner. Others have used the app as a medium to spread vitriolic, hateful messages.

Students have been sexually objectified, teachers have been impersonated and insulted, individuals’ names have been slandered, flagrant sexist and racist comments have been made – suffice to say, all is not well in the High School.

At ASL, it is our inherent duty as citizens endowed with an outstanding education to set a precedent. Many times we have heard in back-to-school speeches that we can be “the future leaders of the world”; in a recent editorial discussion, an editor steadfastly said of the Yik Yak bullies, “I don’t want these [people] to be the leaders of the world.”

“Yakkers” have fallen back years in maturity by abusing, ridiculing and abasing individuals behind a curtain of anonymity. Courage and leadership have been substituted by vilification and cowardice. Those who have participated in a destructive manner have failed the school, they have failed the faculty and staff, but above all else, they have failed themselves. They have proved all of our detractors right, and all of those who believe in our community wrong. If anything, they mounted individual students, our community and our integrities on a burning stake.

In a direct step toward removing this poison from the community, the editors of The Standard have vowed to actively disengage with the application. Yik Yak, we believe, is a platform we are not prepared to use in its current state. We encourage all members of the school community to follow in our footsteps but to also go one step further: Tell those who are hurting those we care about to stop, tell those who are being hurt that we support them.

While this newspaper is not involved in disciplinary matters, we do have a few requests for the administration. We ask that the administration do all it can to ensure that Yik Yak cannot be used at the school. And we also ask that the administration make a concerted effort to track down those who posted the range of offensive comments and, when found, to bring them before the Student-Faculty Disciplinary Board. We believe that it is imperative that those who have been bullied over the last few days are provided with necessary support.

As long as students continue to use Yik Yak in the way that it has been used in the past few days, we hinder our ability to create a strong community. Any foundation we built has been betrayed by the abhorrent behavior produced using this medium.

As an Editorial Board, we condemn this behavior. Anyone participating in spreading this hate is complicit in the moral degeneration of our community. Bullying should not be tolerated, nor should sexism or racism. While we recognize that it may be difficult for culprits to be to be disciplined due to the anonymous nature of the app, The Standard encourages those who use the app to look within – sometimes it’s not about “getting away with it,” sometimes it’s about doing the right thing.