(U-WIRE) SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse University's Department of Public Safety can't be faulted for its occasional — albeit unnecessary — practice of trolling Facebook.com for busting parties, but students can learn to protect themselves against a pre-emptive visit from officers. Still, while the officers have every right to use the Internet in their jobs, Public Safety ought to question itself as to whether college students having parties on the weekend is so outlandish and such a threat to campus safety as to respond to tips from Facebook party listings.
Facebook.com is accessible to anyone with an syr.edu e-mail account — including faculty and administrators. In fact, Director of Judicial Affairs Juanita Perez Williams has a Facebook account of her own. This is not a secret and the administration is not being deceitful in creating these accounts, so there is minimal room for criticism. Posting a party announcement on Facebook is akin to plastering fliers about a kegger in the Hall of Languages; it's a public area and Public Safety can't ignore that. Students can't get too mad at Public Safety for using its resources to do its job.
This doesn't mean that students should give in to the university and give up on parties, though. They should take responsibility for the information they put on the Internet for anyone to see and consider using the privacy restrictions available to them. Students who want to invite their Facebook friends to a party shouldn't list their address in the party invitation — a simple "at my house" would do. Also, Facebook allows users to restrict non-friends from seeing their profiles. That provides added protection from prying eyes in the administration — not to mention the potential employers who already are checking their recruits' Facebook profiles for disagreeable habits.
Although Public Safety has every right to use Facebook as a tool to find parties, it's still ridiculous. College students have never been known for their sobriety, but not all parties are so irresponsible as this would suggest. Just because a student has listed a party on Facebook doesn't mean the party will be raucous, nor does it necessitate that the guests will be underage drinkers. Public Safety obviously can't — and shouldn't — disregard the law and drinking age, but it ought to keep in mind that if all the students on the campus who are guilty of underage drinking were punished to the full extent of the law, the university would be hard-pressed to enroll a single class.