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Prof: In defense of friending your student

I’ll just say, right up front, I absolutely do. If students request me, I always say yes (well, almost always). And I have found it to be really useful in my job. I’m generally a pretty die-hard Facebook fan. As a writer, it’s helped me in selling books and in making contacts with other writers. So I pretty much jumped right in when the first student friended me, says Emily Wall, assistant professor at the University of Alaska Southeast. Since then, I’ve heard some really good reasons not to — and surprisingly, most of those have come from my students. I let my advanced comp. students choose their own topics for an op-ed piece this fall, and they chose to argue about the value of Facebook. They had some pretty persuasive arguments against it. One of them told the story of having to change a relationship status just minutes after breaking up, and then getting deluged all day with “why??” questions from friends. That one made me pause and think.  And now a few weeks ago, I attended a webinar about professors who have been bullied (or worse) by students, and how to deal with aggression from students. The leader of the webinar strongly suggested we not interact with our students on Facebook, saying it just gives them more access to our lives and possible weapons if they decide to hurt us. That made me pause and think, too…

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