Letter to the Editor: Learning from History: From Yik Yak to Whisper

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I recently saw a poster for the Whisper App in the loggia. It stated that the mobile application was “Just like Yik Yak.” Just like the sexist and racist comments on that app? Just like the slut shaming that happened on that platform? Just like the lack of consideration for the experience of victim-survivors which occurred on the banned app? The poster even highlighted the fact that the Whisper app has not been banned yet, thus implying the possibility of this app encouraging the same behavior that led to the banning of its predecessor.

For the students who felt attacked, embarrassed or offended by comments and posts on Yik Yak last year, posters like these are not tantalizing in any way. They most likely do not want the app. Last year, Yik Yak was used as a platform for hate speech. The campus was personally affected by the racist, sexist and overall ignorant posts and comments. Looking at what is currently happening at Yale, Mizzou and American University, it is clear that anonymous social media applications give people a vehicle through which they can spread hate without facing direct consequences. I know that the Whisper app, if used by certain students at Grinnell, will bring about the same hate speech as Yik Yak.

To those people who attacked students on Yik Yak last year and wish to do so on Whisper, I hope you find another college to attend. The Grinnell community is not perfect, but we are not a community that aspires to let hate spread freely without repercussion. Those attempts to target and oppress marginalized students did not work and will not stop us from receiving the benefits of and adding to this community. In an ideal world where everyone in the community is respectful of each other, apps like Yik Yak and Whisper have the potential to add value to the community, but as we exist now, it is used to break us apart. Out of respect for the people who will most likely be attacked on the Whisper app, I ask that you don’t use it, and if Whisper does become a thing, I hope it gets banned.

Dixon Romeo ’16