Juicy Campus

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What is JuicyCampus.com? It’s a virtual Burn Book. Those of you familiar with the movie Mean Girls (and I expect there are many) know exactly what I’m talking about. In the film, a group of girls, led by unscrupulous queen bee Regina George, create an encyclopedia of gossip and slander called the Burn Book, whose hot pink cover and cutesy collage work conceal much darker inner workings. A quick search of “Burn Book” on Google turns up instructions on how to create your very own rumor mill record book, along with suggestions on where to conceal such a liability. However, you may not want to run down to the nearest craft store just yet.  There is really no need for you and your BFFs to go scrapbook crazy now that USF is featured on JuicyCampus.com.
The website works much like any other message board, with one glaring exception. Whereas most sites that allow commenting require users to identity themselves, Juicy Campus does not. This is really the central concept of the site: without any means by which to be held accountable, posters can sling virtual mud left and right to their heart’s content. And now that Juicy Campus fever seems to have seized our campus, some of the kids at Social Justice U. are proving to be just as vile as Regina George herself.
Where have USF students chimed in the most? On a thread entitled “if you could [word removed] slap 2 people at USF…” Other popular threads include “freshmen GUYS who think they’re [sic] all that” and “DRUNKEST GIRLS AT USF??” Besides revealing a use of the English language which is questionable at best, many of the posts reveal homophobic, anti-Semitic, sexist and racist tendencies. One thread on the site tries to ‘out’ students who are supposedly closeted. Another is a startling testimony of racial division here at USF. It’s no wonder the website was banned a few weeks ago at the University of Tennessee, where administrators are now  refusing to host the site on their servers.
Some posters have called an end to the gossip wars, calling for posters to “grow up” and leave the cattiness of high school days behind once and for all. One poster goes on to say, “I’m pretty sure college girls and guys have enough to deal with without someone calling them the ugliest person on campus.”
But isn’t it everyone’s secret wish to find out what people really think of them? Juicy Campus seems to be just as much about being able to anonymously attack others as it is about being able to find what the uncensored opinions of others are towards you. After searching for my name and coming up with nothing (I must admit I was sorely disappointed) I created a post titled “Maro Guevara” that read, “What’s the deal with him? Discuss.” The trap sprung, I eagerly awaited to see if anyone would take the bait. Two weeks later, my post had over two hundred views, but only three replies, which, judging by their encouraging and positive nature, I assume are all from my house mates. So much for that.
As for the bullet-proof anonymity that the site boasts, posters should think twice if they think they can’t be traced. I called the ITS department at USF and they promptly directed me to Juicy Campus’s own privacy policy, which, in part, reads, “We reserve the right to disclose your personally identifiable information and/or non-personally identifiable information as required by law and when we believe that disclosure is necessary to protect our rights and/or to comply with a judicial proceeding, court order, or legal process served on our Web site.” The website has been subpoenaed in the past for information regarding students who have threatened the security of their campuses. In December of last year, the Associated Press reported that the L.A. police arrested Carlos Huerta, a student who allegedly wrote a post on Juicy Campus threatening to go on a killing spree.
“We don’t as a practice monitor any website,” said Dan Lawson, USF’s director of Public Safety. However, if the health and security of USF’s community was threatened, it would be a different matter entirely, “Would we take action similar to Loyola Marymount? Absolutely.”
In the closing scenes of “Mean Girls,” Lindsay Lohan’s character arrives at a somewhat obvious, but nevertheless meaningful revelation: “Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter.”
USF’s participation on the site shows no signs of stopping. Students are working overtime to besmirch the school’s carefully crafted brand of tolerance and being men and women for others. The relentless slew of new posts on Juicy Campus is a testament to the fact that USF students may never reach the same level of enlightenment as a high school girl.

116 COMMENTS

  1. I love it! Great article. Your idea of starting a post about yourself is really quite brilliant. Too bad no one took the bait.
    p.s. I will make it my goal to quote Mean Girls in an article by the time I graduate.

  2. Shed a tear for the greatest website ever:

    JUICYCAMPUS COMES TO AN END

    Open Letter From JuicyCampus Founder

    Juicy Campers,

    What a wild ride this has been! In the past year and a half, JuicyCampus has become synonymous with college gossip, and is more popular than I could have ever expected. We’ve expanded to more than 500 campuses across the US , and have more than a million unique visitors coming to the site every month. It’s clear that we have provided a platform that students have found interesting, entertaining, and fun.

    Unfortunately, even with great traffic and strong user loyalty, a business can’t survive and grow without a steady stream of revenue to support it. In these historically difficult economic times, online ad revenue has plummeted and venture capital funding has dissolved. JuicyCampus’ exponential growth outpaced our ability to muster the resources needed to survive this economic downturn, and as a result, we are closing down the site as of Feb. 5, 2009.

    On behalf of everyone here at JuicyCampus, I would like to thank all of our users for reading, contributing to, and telling your friends about the site. And I’d like to thank everyone who has engaged in meaningful discussion about online privacy and internet censorship. JuicyCampus has raised issues that have passionate advocates on both sides, and I hope that dialogue will continue. While there are parts of JuicyCampus that none of us will miss – the mean-spirited posts and personal attacks – it has also been a place for the fun, lighthearted gossip of college life. I hope that is how it is remembered.

    Keep it Juicy,

    Matt Ivester

    Founder & CEO, JuicyCampus.com

    Los Angeles, CA

    February 4, 2009

  3. I know your secret too! I look at commenting in this way – since I’m relatively new to blogging, I always thought from the beginning that it was a two-way medium, where someone is starting a conversation that invites interaction, so I picked up the habit right away. In contrast, I’d think if some folks never commented when they first ventured into the blogosphere, it would be more difficult to jump in down the road (i.e. not a habit). Nevertheless, I agree with you on your last statement

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