Facebook offers students chances to organize

April 3, 2008 — by Ben Clement and Audrey Yang

Traditionally, student activism involves posting flyers around campus to reach out to the student body. But with the use of Facebook prevalent throughout the school, online groups are now the focus for those trying to organize—and sometimes stir up—students.

The online social networking site offers students the chance to meet new people as well as develop a sense of virtual organization where anyone can become an important influence.

“Facebook provides the foundation needed to initiate student causes on a level never seen before,” said junior Corey Rateau, who created the “Students for Barack Obama: SHS Chapter” group on the site.

The group, which has more than 100 members, focuses on support for presidential candidate Obama within the confines of Saratoga High. It gives members a place to share their thoughts and opinions about the ongoing political campaign.

Although “the group itself has not had any major effects on its members,” said Rateau, “it still remains a great resource to get students more involved.”

Through the creation of the “Screw Saratoga High Cliques” group, senior Eddie Koai also used this tool in his hope to tackle and eliminate the issue of division among students.

The group’s goal, as mentioned in the Facebook group description, is to break down the barriers between upperclassmen and underclassmen, Asians and Caucasians and a variety of other groups.

“I’m sure [the concept’s] not very practical,” said Koai, “but if you don’t try, you’ll never get anywhere. So what’s the point of not trying?”

Another Facebook group, made up primarily of Saratoga High alumni along with a few current students, is called “Saratoga Kids Who Hate Saratoga.”

In the group definition, where Facebook groups usually explain their names and what they stand for, the group mocks many stereotypes about Saratoga, such as the “dads with their BMWs” and “moms with their walking buddies,” and rails against Saratoga High for being so centered around academics.

Some students in the hate-Saratoga group said they don’t always agree with all the group’s opinions, but they share some of the same feelings.

Koai, the anti-clique group creator, said his group hopes to address such anti-SHS feelings by breaking down barriers between cliques and discouraging bullying.

“I created the group because of all the [stupid things] that happen. You may think I’m exaggerating, but I literally saw a guy steal someone’s cell phone and run away with it while his friends videotaped it,” said Koai. “What a bunch of [jerks].”

Online presence turns into reality

Koai took the group’s efforts to the next level by bringing it into the realm of reality and creating an event: a massive, school-wide game of Sharks and Minnows, which took place last Friday during tutorial.

“To be honest, Sharks and Minnows was created for the pure purpose of nostalgia and fun,” said Koai. “But if you meet new people while you’re at it, that’s sick too.”

The idea for the event was originally presented by Spanish teacher Arnaldo Rodríguex when he told one of his Spanish classes that it was sad students no longer just played tag outside. That conversation lent itself to furthering the anti-clique group’s goal.

“Who [doesn’t] miss elementary school [and the games of] Sharks and Minnows, Capture the Flag and Freeze Tag?” said Koai. “[You get to] meet new people, run around, tag a girl. Sounds great to me.”

Breaking down social barriers and having a little fun at the same time? Now that sounds good.

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