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Don’t Be The Next College Racism Scandal

February 15, 2021

In the midst of America’s racial reckoning, there has been a growing awareness of racism on college campuses. 

Following the police killing of George Floyd at least two colleges have rescinded admissions offers to incoming students who made racist comments on social media. Other colleges have said they will discipline students who post hateful messages. It begs the question of how many such incidents could have been avoided had these schools established a zero-tolerance policy for online toxicity from the outset. 

With LifeBrand’s social media scanning tool, colleges can ask incoming freshmen to review their online histories and eliminate harmful posts as part of the application process. Because the applicants themselves administer the scan and see their own content, colleges avoid liability on the basis of discrimination. In addition, LifeBrand’s tool is compliant with both the EEOC and the FCRA, the major regulatory frameworks concerned with the use of personal information.  

Including a social media scan in higher education application processes communicates a clear message about the honor code and standards of conduct for all members of the community. Furthermore, it helps to weed out applicants who don’t truly align with the values of the college. It doesn’t take a PR scandal to understand that online speech does reflect beliefs, which often find expression in behaviors. 

The Story: College Admission Revoked

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, many students took to social media to denounce racial injustice, while others made statements in defense of Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged in the incident. 

Sean Glaze, who was set to attend Xavier University in August 2020, tweeted: “In America, you are allowed to be racist as long as you don’t act on it.” He also suggested that Ku Klux Klan rallies were less violent than the protests following Floyd’s death. It also turned out that Glaze had used the N-word in past posts on social media. 

The university, a Jesuit institution located in Cincinnati, announced shortly after that it had revoked Glaze’s admission offer, stating that the “offensive, racially-charged” posts do not reflect its values.

The community was overcome with “shock, disappointment and horror at what he [Glaze] had said” which was “egregiously bigoted,” commented rising sophomore Gabe Warren, who plays on Xavier’s cross country and track teams. Warren said that he and his teammates backed the university’s decision for taking a clear stand on its culture as a school.

Online Behavior Reflects Real Behavior

Discussions around free speech often neglect to touch on the most fundamental issue for most organizations: Identity. The first amendment right to free speech refers to freedom from reprisal by the government, but organizations can define what they consider as acceptable speech and act on it. 

With social media activity becoming ever-present in our lives, many organizations are becoming cognizant of the connection between online speech and real-life behavior. Even if an individual doesn’t escalate hate speech into action, that kind of language can cultivate a toxic culture—and affect the public’s perception of who you are.

This story also demonstrates that social media behavior tends to be consistent. If you’re the kind of person that is willing to use the N-word or other bigoted language, it’s likely that your history will show it. While everyone has a few embarrassing or borderline-inappropriate posts from the past (our testing at LifeBrand shows that the average person will turn up 33 “harmful” posts), certain types of speech reveal troubling aspects of a person’s character. Wouldn’t you prefer to get ahead of this issue before it creates the wrong kind of press for your organization? 

Introducing LifeBrand Artificial Intelligence

Whether you’re a college, business, or not-for-profit institution, the process of filtering out candidates will look more or less the same. For universities, including a social media scan 

as an admissions requirement can go a long way in setting the tone for your community’s standards of conduct before a student is even enrolled. After all, social media in higher education has become an important aspect of overall conduct. For other organizations, it also acts as a preventive measure to dissuade candidates who may not be the right fit for the company.

LifeBrand meets all legal requirements, as our tool is compliant with both the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Using our artificial intelligence scanner ensures a completely transparent process and guards against human bias in selection. Here’s out it would look for you: 

  1. Request a Scan. LifeBrand will send an email with a link to the student or applicant, where they will be able to access our scanning tool. They will input the links to their social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc). 

  1. Wait for Completion. The candidate will be able to see the content of each social media post that gets flagged as “harmful.” They get to choose whether to delete or ignore bad posts. Ignored posts mean that the applicant hasn’t deemed them to be truly harmful.

  1. Analyze the Results. A report will show a breakdown of the number of harmful posts in each category: sexually explicit, insult, obscene, toxic, threat, identity, and toxic. If your organization considers certain types of content to be more “red-flag” than others, you can create settings that put greater weight on those categories. You won’t see the actual content of the posts, but you can make decisions about accepting or hiring the applicant based on the data you receive. You can also compare the data to that of the average user. 

It’s obvious that using this kind of tool could have helped many colleges (not to mention businesses!) to avoid scandals around online speech. Most would agree that it’s preferable to select better than to become another rescinded admissions story. After all, you don’t want to be the latest example of racism on college campuses in the newspapers! Our artificial intelligence provides a precise solution that allows you to select the candidates that best reflect your values. 

To learn more about how LifeBrand can customize this tool to your needs, you can request a free demonstration by contacting us at info@lifebrand.life.