School Responds to Yik Yak Craze

Described by students as “anonymous Twitter,” the mobile application “Yik Yak” allows students to interact with others within a given geographic hotspot to post “yaks,” short snippets talking about absolutely anything. While some “yaks” are simply humorous, some Andover students have used the anonymous platform to post degrading and destructive content. “The words that I have read on ‘Yik Yak’ make me very sad and disappointed in our student body — even though I know it may represent only one person,” wrote Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, in an email to The Phillipian. “Anonymous posting strikes me as cowardly. If you cannot take responsibility for your words, then they shouldn’t be said or written,” he continued. Head of School John Palfrey addressed the issue in Wednesday’s All-School Meeting. He said that heads of schools similar to Andover have considered banning “Yik Yak” from their campuses. “It’s really not that hard to ban it. We can make a rule about it; we can use technology to geofence; we can grab all your phones and make sure you take it off. There are lots of solutions to this problem. I don’t like those solutions, Andover: they’re dumb. There’s going to be another app. There’s going to be another thing. You’ll figure out how to get around geofencing soon enough. Why do we need ‘Yik Yak’?” said Palfrey at ASM. Palfrey’s solution to the application is to strip “Yik Yak” of its influence. “If nobody uses it, then it doesn’t matter… If it’s one tree falling in the forest, if one person wants to be nasty and anonymous, then let them do it. It won’t have any power,” he said. “Think of this year and what you want to spend your time on. I don’t think it is on being nasty to other people, students, teachers and faculty members. I don’t think that’s the year we want to have,” he continued. “Yik Yak” is a free application developed by Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington at Furman University in Greenville, SC.