Monaco urges students to remove drinking photos
Published: Friday, October 7, 2011
Updated: Friday, October 7, 2011 02:10
"Pictures of last night/ Ended up online/ I'm screwed/ Oh well," Katy Perry sings in her song "Last Friday Night." Though amusing, Perry's lyrics have a way of making their way into the lives of an increasing number of underage college students who post photos of themselves drinking online — with dire consequences.
According to an article published in 2010 by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, more than a third of surveyed employers reported finding information that resulted in them rescinding the job offers of some applicants. Their findings included provocative or inappropriate pictures and content pertaining to drinking and drug use, especially on Facebook.
Tufts University President Anthony Monaco has taken a special interest in the issue of underage drinking in his first month on the Hill, speaking out against the practice of posting potentially detrimental photos online in a time when employers can easily search job applicants.
"[This issue] came to my attention after individuals requested to be friends on Facebook," Monaco told the Daily. Monaco's online presence has come to characterize the initial period of his presidency.
"After accepting their friend requests, I would view their posts and photos," Monaco said. "Most of the photos with individuals drinking alcohol stood out because they were clustered together or in albums centered around a specific party," he added. "I am particularly concerned about pictures displaying evidence of binge drinking with shots of hard liquor."
While having pictures displaying an exciting Thursday night may at first seem harmless, the consequences can outweigh the benefits of showing off these glory days. This is especially true for students whose online lives will be at the mercy of potential employers.
"Students' ‘personal brand,' which includes their online reputation, is of utmost importance in a job search," Director of Tufts Career Services Jean Papalia said. "Our employers have told us that they Google candidates and check their Facebook photos," she said.
The sense of urgency when it comes to scandalous photos of red cups or beer bottles may not reach students who would rather keep the memories of crazy nights alive.
"Yes, there have been pictures of me up online drinking," senior Massimo Soriano said. "There're plenty of people at parties taking pictures that happen to have beers in them," he said.
Soriano, now 22, said that being over 21 does not change his efforts to untag photos that show him with alcohol.
"I don't think that all the people I know go through as much effort to untag all the pictures of them drinking," Soriano said. "Untagging is an easy way to put it out of your mind for the time being, and to remove some association with it, in terms of future job searches and so on."
Soriano said that he expects his friends to use the most rigorous privacy settings when they do post these pictures online, so that they are only viewable by him and his closest friends.
"It's almost sad to untag the most epic pictures, but one day we'll all have to get jobs," Soriano said.
Monaco shared Papalia's concern that the pictures can cause problems for students in their future academic and professional lives.
"It reflects badly on [the students'] personal reputation and may overemphasize a part of their life, which diminishes the overall representation of their character," Monaco said. "Many employers search [Facebook] to learn more about applicants for future employment. Having many pictures on your Facebook page of you drinking at parties will not help your employment prospects," he said.
Monaco cited concerns that were even more serious than rejection from a potential employer. "Posting such pictures … glorifies alcohol consumption and the environment that encourages alcohol intoxication," Monaco said. "It might also encourage others who are their friends on [Facebook] to enter into the drinking culture in order to join their social arena when they might not have done so otherwise."
According to Monaco, this issue is particularly important to him because of the prevalence of binge drinking he has seen among students at Tufts since his arrival.
"We have had over 20 transports to the emergency room for alcohol intoxication since the beginning of the school year," Monaco said.
This, he says, is a cause for alarm. "I am concerned by the frequency of these transports and the risks alcohol intoxication poses for the health, safety and personal development of our students." he said. "One day, we may not get all of these students transported to the emergency room back safely on campus."