After a temporary pause, Pitzer’s Student-Talk returns with opt-in policy, community guidelines

A group of people in a circle discuss things on their computer. Around them are a sea of blue figures.
(Lucia Marquez-Uppman • The Student Life)

After a series of incidents involving harassment and bullying during the spring 2022 semester, Pitzer College’s Listserv Student-Talk is back along with some modifications from Pitzer Student Senate’s executive board. 

In a Sept. 5 email addressed to the Pitzer student body regarding the open mailing list’s regular reactivation after the summer, Student Body President Michelle Muturi PZ ’23 announced that students interested in joining Student-Talk will now have to opt in via email. 

Students interested in joining will also have to read and agree to community guidelines developed by the executive board to combat “harassment or doxing,” Muturi told students in the email.

“[Student-Talk is meant to be] a forum where we can all connect and exercise our freedom of speech,” Muturi said. “Unfortunately, certain uses of Student-Talk have escalated into a problem within our community, which has led to our decision to reimagine how we will be able to interact with Student-Talk and change it as a media platform.”

Any student who violates Student Talk’s new guidelines more than three times may be removed for the remainder of the semester, Muturi said. 

In previous years, Student-Talk was a largely unregulated forum for the entire Pitzer student body that students were automatically added to upon matriculation. Those who did not want to be part of the Listserv had to request to opt out.

Students would use the Listserv for everything from borrowing tape to learning about classes to community organizing.  

But, as Muturi referenced in her email, the unmoderated Listserv also had some cases of alleged harassment and bullying, which led to conflict between students. 

Last year, some students got into online altercations over personal and political matters, including disputes about McConnell’s dining hall staff or the school’s alleged Title IX violations. 

Muturi told TSL in an interview that she hopes requiring students to opt in will help mitigate some of the platform’s more hostile conversations. 

“By opting in, by actively choosing [to be involved], I hope students are more mindful about their role,” Muturi said. 

Past incidents on the platform weren’t the executive board’s only considerations, though. After speaking with students, Muturi said the Executive Board found that some students didn’t want to be on the email Listserv.  

“We wouldn’t make these changes if they were not requested,” Muturi said. “Not everyone wants to be [on the platform]. A lot of students mentioned that the emails were taking up a lot of storage space or just crowding their inbox.”

But to Ana Hernandez PZ ’25, the changes to Student-Talk came as a shock. She told TSL that the changes to the platform didn’t seem like the most effective way to reduce conflict between students.

“People are going to fight inside of Student-Talk and outside of Student-Talk,” Hernandez said. “Student-Talk is not what makes people bully each other.”

To Hernandez, Student-Talk is an important part of Pitzer’s student culture, and she said she worried the changes to the Listserv could reduce the benefits of the platform.   

“Student-Talk is a big part of the campus community here,” Ana Hernandez PZ ’25 said. “It’s our way of communicating with everybody else.”

“Having people opt-in on student talk really decreases not only the amount of people on student talk, but also a bit of its purpose,” Hernandez said. “If you can’t reach the entire campus community, then it’s not the same.”

Her concerns aren’t unfounded. 

First-year Eitan Goldfein missed the email from Pitzer telling students to opt in and wasn’t aware of Student-Talk until recently. 

“[In my first few weeks at Pitzer] I had never heard of it and had never heard anyone speaking about it, so I guess that’s not a good sign,” Goldfein said. 

However, after eventually hearing about it from a few friends, Goldfein decided to opt-in. 

Although Goldfein is now part of the Listserv, he said he wasn’t completely sure what to make of the platform.

“I have interest in it, but at the same time I’m not invested in it,” Goldfein said. “If it didn’t exist, I probably wouldn’t mind.” 

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