Question: SPSU+KSU equals ?
News released on last Friday, Nov.1st, that a plan on consolidating Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU) and Kennasaw State University (KSU) to form a new institution to be named Kennasaw State university was proposed by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. The proposed consolidation plan will be asked by Chancellor Hank Huckaby to approve during its upcoming November meeting.
I heard the news through an invitation of the Hornet Rally event by a friend on Facebook last Friday afternoon. I was also invited to hit like on Keep SPSU and KSU separate Facebook page. Then I realized it was serious and went to SPSU homepage to find the original link and read the news. I searched news from Google as well. I found that the Friday news was more focused on the release of the proposed consolidation plan. The Marietta Daily Journal on the news article “Kennesaw State to absorb Southern Polytechnic in big merger” reported the Board of Regents’ plan of merger, the benefits of the merger according to a chair of the subcommittee and some statistics of both schools such as history and enrollment numbers. On Monday’s news, I checked AJC’s articled called “Southern Poly students rally today against proposed merger with Kennesaw. Will it matter?” This news piece along with other news released on Monday was more focused on the protest of SPSU students. The keep SPSU and KSU separate Facebook page, change.org petition and students’ concerns were referenced by different newspapers. News began to shift from reporting the consolidation plan to the reaction of SPSU students, faculty, staffs and alumni. I feel news framed differently with different time period and the change of focus. Since the proposed consolidation plan released on Friday, the group that criticized strongly about the plan are SPSU students, faculty, staffs and alumni. SPSU students’ voice wants to be heard and the news outlets may also discover that the voice of this group could be best fit for their stories.
Back to social media, I was one of the first fifty people who started focusing on the Facebook page “Keep SPSU and KSU separate” and now 3,988 people have liked the page by the time I write this blog. The social media plays a great role in spreading the news and opinions. It provides SPSU students a fast and convenient way to express themselves and let themselves heard. I saw both activism and slacktivism on social media. I would consider people who actually “produce” something on social media are activism. For example, people who design posters and flyers for the Facebook page, provide updated news of the merger from news outlets, share what they did such as writing letters to the Board of Regents, and call on actions such as organize Rally, sign petition etc on social media websites. Because those people are playing the role of the “influencer”. (According to converging media, p255, an influencer means a person who can influence others in their social network to perform an action or change an attitude.) They use social media as a tool to share what actions they have done to encourage other people’s action and attitude. I also observed that some people on social media were just watching the fun. Some of them were curious to see what happened, some of them followed the trend of what other people do. There were complaints and cursing on the Facebook page about the merger. However, I consider them as “slacktivism” because they are not promotional for the event.
At the end of this blog, I drew a picture to share my perspective of the question I raised at the beginning.