Illinois College Bans Yik Yak

Yik YakIllinois College President Barbara Farley made the tough call to block students from using the app Yik Yak. Posts are anonymous and can be seen by location. The app is notorious for attracting mean and sometimes racist comments, which has caused complaints by students and faculty. At Illinois College, the Student Senate, Black Student Union, and faculty members have been particularly vocal about Yik Yak problems. 

Students joke that the ban isn't really a ban at all because they can continue to access the app through their data plans. Although a handful of universities have banned the app, others refuse, partly for this reason. According to the vice president for student affairs at Duke University, "Since it can always be accessed via cell signal, no institution could truly eliminate it from their campus. For any institution to seek to silence it plays right into [Yik Yak's] hands...since what they seek is notoriety."

Several feminist and civil rights groups have urged the Department of Education to take action against Yik Yak. However, a Slate writer also argues that Yik Yak is helpful to students adjusting to college and struggling with mental illness. She says a university ban hurts some of the students they are trying to protect.

Discussion Starters:

  • What's your opinion of Yik Yak: is it more helpful to students or harmful?
  • How do you use the app?
  • Should universities ban the app? What are the considerations and possible consequences?