“C’mon. Give us juice,” reads the homepage of juicycampus.com, a Web site that has been stirring up the campus ever since it expanded in January to include Princeton.
Founded by Duke graduate Matt Ivester in August 2007, the site provides forums for anonymous, uncensored gossip at more than 50 colleges. For those students whose names have come up, the results are usually mean-spirited, humiliating, and often false.
Princeton’s JuicyCampus Web site is viewed more than that of any other Ivy League school besides Cornell, with discussions centering around Greek affiliations, eating clubs, and sexual exploits. The most-discussed topics include “Bicker surprises” and “Sluttiest girl,” and homophobic and racist comments are particularly rife.
In mid-March, the New Jersey attorney general’s office subpoenaed Juicy Campus’ records, stating that while the site claims to ban offensive material, it does not allow the subjects of its gossip to contest what has been published about them, and is therefore in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act.
Some Princeton students called for a boycott of the site, while others posted passages from Dostoevsky, the Constitution, and War and Peace in an attempt to overwhelm the site’s servers.
“Please don’t assume that the comments here represent the thoughts of the majority of Princeton students,” wrote one unnamed student. “Many of us view this site as a form of entertainment in the early hours of the morning while we try to stay awake and study.”
The Web site spurred a free-speech debate on campus, with some students urging the administration to ban access to the site from campus computers. University spokeswoman Cass Cliatt ’96 and Thomas Dunne, associate dean of undergraduate students, said that in order to avoid a “slippery slope,” the University’s policy is not to prohibit access to Web sites based on content unless criminal enterprises or acts could be involved.
However, in a March 31 e-mail, Dunne announced that students and administrators had created a Web-based petition against anonymous attacks and “to rally the majority who do believe that these types of attacks are cowardly and have no place at our school.”
The online petition, www.ownwhatyouthink.com, said that posting malicious gossip on the Web, tearing down posters on campus because of the viewpoints expressed by the sponsoring organization, and writing derogatory messages in common areas were “particularly detrimental to respectful and open dialogue.” More than 650 people signed their names to the petition in less than a week.