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The Citadel: Social Media and the Rumor Mill

The past few weeks have been very busy for me and I haven’t had a chance to update the blog. Many of the readers here are parents with cadets at The Citadel. Today I’ll address these parents.

A week ago the Citadel parent Facebook groups began to light up with concerns over various alleged happenings on campus. This happens in some form each year. A cadet will talk to their parent about a situation then a parent will post a concern to a Facebook group. Then stories are compared, opinions are aired, and before you know it parents are upset. It’s a wild form of the childhood game of post office. The end report sounds nothing like what actually happened.

The groups for the most part were started by parents for parents to connect and share photos of big weekends. Questions about preparations for the weekends, and traditions of the school crop up frequently. It’s been my practice not to engage in dialogue about policies of the school. My son was the cadet, not me. I have on occasion tried to dispel rumors by consulting a primary source on campus, like a contact in the commandants office or a TAC officer.

Now that I am the mother of an Army officer I’ve learned about the OPSEC rules for social media. The Army also has a Facebook group called Army Operations Security (OPSEC). Posting too much identifying information on deployment dates, return dates, locations, etc. can endanger our troops. Anything a person posts to a social media site could be read by the members of that site and anyone those members may know and possibly people who intend to do harm.

There are basic rules of confidentiality between a therapist and client. It is also never a good idea to issue an opinion without having first hand knowledge of a situation. In other words if it didn’t happen to you directly, keep quiet. Be aware of the intent and membership of a group when you join and before you begin to post to it.

I don’t know the inner workings of The Citadel, but I have learned a few rules that I live by and pass along to other parents. Much of what happens knob year is learned one day at a time. First year cadets are kept in the dark and therefore it is easy for rumors to spread. If at any time a parent has a concern about something their cadet has told them, I encourage them to discuss it with the Ombudsperson’s office on campus. The cadets are encouraged to report problems through their chain of command, but they too can contact the Ombudsperson for advice and guidance confidentially.

A few tips: If a parent has a concern and just wants a fellow parent to talk to, the Citadel Family Association  volunteers are a good place to start. If it is a school policy question, call the Ombudsperson’s office. When The Citadel External Affairs office or other school sites post photos, pressing the like button is fine, but don’t raise your knob’s profile by posting gushing comments.

The dock behind the Boathouse on campus. My favorite spot.



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