It has become fairly routine practice for University of La Verne students to turn on the laptop with every intention of working on homework. Five minutes of work go by, when suddenly the status updates of their friends seem infinitely more interesting than whatever you are working on.
Mark Zuckerburg’s patented time-waster has been stealing precious studying hours since its start six years ago.
Some students, however, have managed to use Facebook to get closer to their professors, though not in the manner that some may think.
“I have friended my professors,” said sophomore Nicole Godinez.
As the influence and usability of Facebook continues to spread, many have expanded these relationships beyond the confines of the classroom and into the realms of Facebook.
“Frankly, I love (Facebook),” University multicultural affairs director Daniel Loera said.
“If professors want to get an immediate response from their students, I think Facebook is the way to do it,” Loera added.
“If you have a good relationship with your (professors) and want it to continue, you’d probably want it to continue even after you don’t have their class anymore,” said sophomore chemistry major Estefania Gomez.
“I don’t think I’ve had many new students (add me on Facebook), its mostly been alumni,” Loera said.
Some feel that a Facebook relationship with their professors may not be a wise mix of their personal and academic lives.
“I’m not a big fan of friending professors on Facebook,” said sophomore international studies major Paula Zepeda.
“There should be a line of professionalism. I just wouldn’t want my personal life to be seen by my professors,” Zepeda added.
Many Facebook users are uncomfortable with many people viewing the posts they share on social networking sites, not just their professors.
“To me, it’s the same thing as whether or not you want to friend your family members,” said sophomore computer science major Sam Daubney.
“It could be helpful if you wanted to get help straight away, but it depends if you really want them to know every detail of your life that you share (on Facebook),” Daubney added.
“People need to be more restrained with what they share sometimes…especially when they’re attending the University of La Verne,” Loera said.
“I don’t ever pass judgment on students for what they put on Facebook,” said Ian Lising, assistant professor of speech and debate.
Lising has more than 2,000 Facebook friends, including many students.
“I don’t take it upon myself to add students, I wait and see if they want to add me,” he added.
Lising says that he considers Facebook to simply be a new tool in communicating with students that professors should aware of.
He has friended students from every institution where he has taught, as far away as the Philippines.
“I want to be more accessible to students even after they’ve left,” Lising said.
“If we both feel that we want to stay in touch even after I’m no longer their instructor, then I think (Facebook) is fine.”
That is not to say he is unaware of the downsides that social networking can bring.
“I’m friends with family, people in my department, even President Lieberman,” Lising said.
“I wouldn’t want to post anything inappropriate for them, and I expect the same from my students.”
While many students may be hesitant to invite teachers into a more personal aspect of their lives, at the end of the day teachers are people just like everyone else.
And, just like everyone else, students can choose to friend them, or ignore them.
“There are great advantages as well as cautions that should be taken. There are certain things you need to be wary about sharing your life (on Facebook),” Loera said.
Julian Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.