At its very basis, college is a place for learning. We’re here because our skills are imperfect, our goals and eventual futures uncertain. College is a place where we can refine and define who we are and how we want to showcase that.

As Orange Coast College students, we are guaranteed certain protections while on campus. We agree to adhere to a student code of conduct, one that outlines common decency and respect for one another.

But that code of conduct doesn’t stretch to include student behavior on social media platforms. While the administration has promised that the code is being rewritten to include these guidelines, we have yet to see them come to fruition.

After almost a decade of social media prevalence, it is appalling that the rules don’t transfer to the cyber world that is, like it or not, a big part of our lives. Our OCC administration has repeatedly downplayed complaints about cyber bullying, including those involving the campus newspaper.

Hours, days and maybe even weeks of labor and the satisfaction, pride and relief one may feel after a hard job well done can be instantly destroyed by the cruel words of a stranger, comfortably crafted from behind the glow of his or her device.

It’s not just their work though. At times, OCC students themselves have been targets of mock and ridicule over their opinions, their appearance and even their ethnicities.

On top of that, online harassment has allegedly even extended to instructors. An important part of the college experience, one that was hotly contested last semester, is an instructor’s ability, responsibility even, to share his or her point of view.

This is not brainwashing. To deem it as such would translate into undermining the intellect of our own peers. Do we lack so much self-awareness that a single instructor’s opinion is going to somehow irreparably warp our minds?

If anything, an instructor’s decision to share his or her own opinions should be seen as a way to solidify your own, whether you agree or disagree.

A dissenting opinion, regardless of where you stand, does not equate to indoctrination. If hearing an opinion you don’t necessarily align with somehow endangers the pole you’ve stuck your morals to, perhaps your beliefs are a bit more fragile than you’re letting on.

Just because you disagree with someone doesn’t make it right to harass them. This is particularly true in an online setting, because at that point, you’re just a coward.

The Coast Report Editorial Board believes specific guidelines need to be developed in terms of student conduct on social media. The administration must not dare tell students or faculty that embarrassment and shame at the hands of an online bully are invalid because they technically didn’t happen on campus.

In an era of pervasive social media influence, our college’s guidelines must include online behavior. The internet is certainly a platform of free speech, but when a comment crosses the line into hate speech, students should be held accountable.

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