Perhaps no better single decision will define my experience at Southeast more than establishing the Living at Southeast (L@SE) group. Five years ago when I worked in the Office of Residence Life I created this group to help new students meet their roommates and ask questions about living on campus (Hence the LIVING part of the Living at Southeast).
As the years have passed there has been an evolution of the group and it is no longer tied to just the on-campus living experience. I am thankful that the group has developed into a way for students (and sometimes even employees) to get information about our campus community. I will confess a small sense of pride when someone shares how they were able to address their issue or get a question quickly answered by someone in the L@SE group. The page has become many things to many people. For some it is a Q&A go to site for an endless list of questions. For others the group is where they share their social commentary about parking, food, temperature, employees, meaning of life (which is 42 by the way). Yet, for others they simply watch the messages back and forth and use the group to learn about campus events.
With more than 4,000 members in the group there are conflicts that develop. Often during these conflicts or when someone sees something that they do not find appropriate the value of the L@SE group is questioned. At least a couple times a month, sometimes more, I am asked about deleting the L@SE page. Strangely enough I have thought about it and up until the group hits 5,000 members the group can be deleted in about 30 seconds. After 5,000 members the group becomes much harder to delete and requires Facebook to get involved. Why delete it? Well for some the page is just their go to page for what is wrong in the world and as for many of us Southeast Missouri State University is currently a major part of their world, therefore this means what is wrong at Southeast. (Note, you can join the Complaining at Southeast group if that is what you are looking for). For others, the page just makes some people lazy (yep, I said it). I can post to the L@SE page and wait for someone to look up the information for me. In response to this, I would say that none of these reasons truly support closing the group, and the reason for this is, in my view, the community engagement the groups provides for.
I believe a major overlooked difference between generations is how we define community. For many people over 30 years old, community involves geography. Community happens where you live, work, pray/not pray, shop, eat, etc. For many students community is no longer bound by your physical location. Community is based on relationships that span geography through technology; Groups like L@SE allow for the expansion and engagement of our communities. It is for this reason that deleting the L@SE group would be a mistake and therefore why we’ve resisted calls in the past to close the group in the past and why I will resist calls to do so in the future. Yes, keeping the group means we will continue to see things that are embarrassing or that someone finds problematic, however, this is the price we pay to allow for the community engagement the L@SE group provides.