Why these guidelines?

  • Forewarned is forearmed: Our campus-wide electronic communication goes a lot better if we provide some information and guidance to people new to the system.

  • FirstClass is not like IM or Facebook. Many conferences are open, and your posts can be read by faculty, staff , administrators and students alike.

  • Online conflict is public conflict, and as such, must be handled civilly and well. It is the function of an educational institution such as ours to promote healthy and vibrant civic discourse toward a reasonable end – not conflict for the sake of conflict. Our students do, over their four years here, become remarkably adept at engaging in online arguments.

  • Wellesley's FirstClass system serves primarily to provide for the official business of campus, allowing professors, students, residential life staff, deans, and campus support staff to communicate professionally with each other. It is also the medium through which we manage our courses electronically. FirstClass's social function – its many open conferences where people chat and argue with each other – is secondary. Wellesley supports this social function because we believe that public discussion of issues large and small is essential to a student's education for citizenship in this world, and because we also realize the value to any community of the small levels of chitchat and good humored banter in which people often engage online. The guidelines are intended to foster interactions that will not interfere with the daily business of our campus community.

The Mellon Committee has worked primarily to help students better understand public deliberation and act effectively in this exciting electronic sphere that we all share, with the goal of helping our shared discourse to be as productive and civil as possible. As its first task, the committee produced a set of "Netiquette Guidelines" intended to prevent some of those simple online mistakes that can snowball from the embarrassing to the distressing and interfere with more productive engagement. At the suggestion of students on our committee, we have also written guidelines for interacting with your professors online and for interacting on Internet-wide sites such as Facebook.

All the guidelines on this site were written with tips from faculty, administrators, and students across campus. We urge you to read our advice carefully, ask questions, send us suggestions for improvement, and even to disagree with us.

WCPSC Faculty Director: Wini Wood
Maintained by: Anne Manning
Date Created: 25 August 2008
Last Modified: 25 August 2008
Expires: 31 December 2009