Oxford Fines Students For Post-Exam Celebrations By Trolling Facebook

from the this-is-the-best-use-of-their-time? dept

We've talked about police trolling sites like YouTube, Facebook and MySpace to catch people posting evidence of their own illegal activities, but it appears that some universities are doing the same thing as well. While we missed the story when it originally came out a couple weeks ago, reader Tom Pritchard writes in to let us know that Oxford University proctors have been scouring Facebook to find any evidence of post-exam "trashings," an (apparent) Oxford tradition of students who have finished their exams spraying each other "with champagne, foam, eggs, flour and any number of other substances." After finding evidence of many such trashings on Facebook the Oxford proctors started fining students, bringing in plenty of cash -- but also plenty of annoyed students who feel their privacy was violated. That's a little tough to support considering they posted such evidence... in public. Though, it does seem a bit overzealous to fine students for blowing off some steam after exams are over.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Rajio, May 6th, 2008 @ 8:54am

    What?

    they aren't fining students for blowing off some steam. They're fining students for cleaning/repair expenses. Fully justified. Someones got to pay for it and these aren't kids. They're adults, who should learn responsibility for their own actions. I wouldnt want to clean egg and flour out of a residence carpet and the other students shouldn't have to flip the bill for it. Let them be annoyed. Let them also learn something about both privacy and responsobility.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 8:54am

    anonymity is the shield of the net. maybe they'll learn that. consider the fine a tuition fee for the class.

     

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  3.  
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    James, May 6th, 2008 @ 8:55am

    WTF?

    So, you get fined for finishing your test and celebrating... I really don't get it.

    I guess they would prefer them to be depressed and sulk around campus instead.

    This world is getting more retarded by the minute.

     

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  4.  
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    Overcast, May 6th, 2008 @ 9:03am

    Oxford tradition of students who have finished their exams spraying each other "with champagne, foam, eggs, flour and any number of other substances."

    What 'crime' was committed there? If they are just spraying each other - I see no issue.

    But 'higher learning' is clearly no place for people to have fun while getting a well balanced education now. It's a place for certain people to push forward their agendas.

     

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  5.  
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    neverLeaveEvidence, May 6th, 2008 @ 9:03am

    Darwin awards

    People that commit a crime then post evidence in a public form = darwin award.

     

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  6.  
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    Matt, May 6th, 2008 @ 9:03am

    Re: What? Evidence please?

    I don't see anything saying this is for repair costs.

    I see things saying this is for behavioral issues with people's methods of celebrating.

    Thus, it is indeed overzealous and I hope oxford gets some big backlash for violating students reasonably expected privacy.

     

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  7.  
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    Kilroy, May 6th, 2008 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re: What? Evidence please?

    There is no evidence in the article that the money collected may go to cleaning up the mess, however, there is a cost here that could be avoided if this policy prevents people from doing it in the future.

    From the article:
    "The university has been attempting to rein in students' celebrations for decades. In 2004 it resorted to spot fines of up to £70 for fluid spraying or egg hurling after residents complained that the clean up bill ran to thousands of pounds. Only 14 students were caught, however."

     

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  8.  
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    Old Guy, May 6th, 2008 @ 9:16am

    Privacy

    No privacy issues at all, unless someone else took the pics and posted sans your permission. Mostly just a case of proctors practicing proctology..

     

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  9.  
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    Stan J Blaszczyk, May 6th, 2008 @ 9:25am

    Re: Re: What? Evidence please?

    I understand that this is a private school and it can do what it wants. But at the same time there should be standards that the students expect from the school on privacy. I mean, thats partly why you pay $150,000 or more for school.

    I know you could argue the other way with the school trying to uphold its reputation of a prestigious school but hard schools do stress out their students alot and people need ways to cut loose and unwind. At least this is how it was for me. I think I would have died if I didnt have fun and celebrate.

     

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  10.  
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    Charles, May 6th, 2008 @ 9:31am

    Can't say i feel sorry for them. They posted it for the public. Also the fine would be given to everyone on the floor if they didn't fine the individual person. I remember the dorm floor i was on get a $6 fine per person and that was low compared to some floors that got $30 per person. Kind of a lot considerings there where about 40 people on each floor

     

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  11.  
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    Seth, May 6th, 2008 @ 9:45am

    Celebrating?

    wow James, I think you're getting more retarded by the minute. What if instead of throwing eggs and flour to celebrate for a test, they started killing people? Could they just write it off as taking a test and celebrating afterward? The same theory applies: they're making a mess that will need cleaned up by staff, hence, they get fined for it.

    As for posting the pics on Facebook, everybody does it, but it really is a stupid idea. What I don't get more than that is when clearly underage kids put pictures of them drinking on myspace or facebook... that's not too smart at all...

     

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  12.  
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    Skippy T. Mut, May 6th, 2008 @ 9:53am

    Re: Celebrating?

    Ok, relax buddy...they're not killing anyone. There's no need to get all high and mighty. Nothing in the article says that they are being fined for "clean up costs" or anything like that. They're fining the students before they do anything. This is just another way for the college to make money. Its just like giving tickets for talking on a cell phone while driving...it has nothing to do with safety, its just another way to make money.

    However, in an effort to remain fair and balanced I must also say...Facebook and MySpace have options to keep things private and allow only your friends to see things. I suggest to these students they start utilizing these features since the school's administration has nothing better to do with its time than troll Facebook and MySpace.

     

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  13.  
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    Eliot, May 6th, 2008 @ 10:03am

    The price...

    Degree from Oxford Univeristy: $80000+
    Beer and Snacks for Post-Exam Celebrations: $100
    Fine for having a post-exam party: $1000
    Learning not to post all your debacles on Facebook: Priceless

    This has nothing to do with Laws. If Oxford banned students from having drunken celebrations after their exams, Oxford has every right to fine them when provided with evidence of a celebration.

     

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  14.  
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    Ryan, May 6th, 2008 @ 10:10am

    reality check...

    Neither Oxford nor this article claimed that a crime was being committed.

    These students celebrated by spraying each other with things like flour, champagne, and eggs. It is not silly string. Can you imagine how much of a pain in the ass it is to clean up? It costs money to pay people to clean that stuff up.

    "Though, it does seem a bit overzealous to fine students for blowing off some steam after exams are over."

    Yeah, that is exactly what they are getting fined for. No way could it be the giant mess they made. Blanket fines for anonymously messy/destructive floors are standard operating procedure for housing departments (it has happened to me). This is a huge step forward; they are actually fining the people who made the mess.

     

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  15.  
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    sajon, May 6th, 2008 @ 10:13am

    If one more friggin person brings up these guys "reasonable expectation of privacy" or the mention of privacy in any way shape or form they must be spaid/nudered to prevent them from breeding. WHEN YOU POST ON WEBSITES FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE YOU GIVE UP YOUR RIGHT TO PRIVACY.

     

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  16.  
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    Matt, May 6th, 2008 @ 10:21am

    also, about fining

    the reason the School is fining and not the law, is because there's no legal basis off simply a picture and the police certainly are not going to waste their time on these flour antics and whatnot...

    thus why this is overzealous even more so.

    Just wait for a kid to take the school to court or something to give the school a shove back on stepping on student's privacy.

     

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  17.  
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    Just Me, May 6th, 2008 @ 10:32am

    #16..and "Privacy" in general

    "Just wait for a kid to take the school to court or something to give the school a shove back on stepping on student's privacy."

    What privacy?? You can't post something on a PUBLIC web site and then cry foul when people, *GASP* SEE it!!

    If they were sniffing network traffic, or randomly busting down doors then sure you might have an argument...but Facebook??
    Come on!

     

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  18.  
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    TriZz, May 6th, 2008 @ 10:34am

    As a college student...

    The article says that Oxford students have been celebrating the end of their exams this way for DECADES! Now you're gonna fine the students for something that has become a school tradition? I mean...seriously, there is WAY worst things they could be doing to celebrate...but spraying each other with fluids and other dairy products?

    Come on Oxford! Get real. This is REALLY lame.

     

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  19.  
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    Tomas, May 6th, 2008 @ 10:45am

    Ok. Where do I find a school for my kid, where he won't be housed in a room that still has egg and bacteria growing the corners and in the carpet. It would be nice to send them to a beautiful place like Oxford. Would you trash your Mother's kitchen to celebrate a family function? Would you trash your neighbor's car? What gives anyone the right to trash a residence that will be used by new students, for years to come? Perhaps this "tradition" can be replaced by something less stupid.

     

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  20.  
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    treibh, May 6th, 2008 @ 10:49am

    property damage

    property damage is property damage...
    it costs money...
    have your fun, but in the real world people take responsiblity for their actions...

     

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  21.  
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    snowburn14, May 6th, 2008 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: Celebrating?

    Skippy... How is fining them because they found pictures of what they did "fining the students before they do anything"? Are these pictures of the future? And if so, where do I get a camera like that?
    Why everyone is so hung up on a lack of explicit mention that these fines were to help pay for cleanup is beyond me. The behavior discussed costs the university money in cleaning services. One way or another, that cost would be passed on to the entire student body. Why shouldn't the people responsible be required to pay for it? Would it help if they called it grafitti?
    And I won't bother to expand on the privacy thing beyond what others have said, except to say I weep for our future...

     

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  22.  
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    Joe, May 6th, 2008 @ 10:59am

    Read TFA

    Maybe you guys are right: it's just all in "good fun," and because it's a tradition the university should incur the costs without any penalty on the students. Or maybe, given that this act of "trashing" the environment as the article states it is a tradition, Oxford should simply raise tuition for all students to cover the costs!

    The money to clean this up, as many other people and the full article stated, needs to come from somewhere, and I think it's quite justified for it to come from the students caught--otherwise the students who weren't doing anything wrong would have to pay for part of this, something I'm slightly less inclined to agree with.

    From the article, simply for emphasis because it's been stated and ignored already:
    "The university has been attempting to rein in studentsā€™ celebrations for decades. In 2004 it resorted to spot fines of up to Ā£70 for ā€œfluid spraying or egg hurlingā€ after residents complained that the clean up bill ran to thousands of pounds. Only 14 students were caught, however."

    What would you guys suggest? It's not easy or desirable to clean up these messes, especially when they include squid and catfood (also from the article). If you want to have "fun," whatever your definition of that may be, that's fine, just be prepared to pay for it one way or another. More power to the university clever enough to find the appropriate evidence to catch the students.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 11:18am

    Re: Celebrating?

    Given the arbitrary nature of drinking age laws and the fact that you can't be chaged with anything for holding a red plastic cup in a picture online, I find it difficult to understand why you think "that's not too smart at all."

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 11:24am

    Simple solution: Hide pictures from anyone but friends.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 12:15pm

    It never ceases to amaze me how we can claim to despise the violation of our right to privacy, and then turn around and post our entire lives on social networking sites for all the world to see. Yeah, that makes perfect sense, ya hypocrites. I for one have never been to facebook, and almost never to MySpace (got linked there once or twice from a Google search), and I have no desire whatsoever to start going to those places. I enjoy my privacy, and I intend to keep it that way. I don't feel the need for everybody in the world to know who I am. Remember, information equals power. A wise person would choose carefully who he reveals himself to.

     

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  26.  
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    BlowURmindBowel, May 6th, 2008 @ 12:28pm

    Wait...

    So if the pictures of the students show that they were outside while these messy "trashings" were taking place, would they still get fined?

    I just really see no evidence in the article or the writeup to determine if the fines were being given because of the mess or because of the behavior.

    For the mess I could understand; but solely for the behavior is asinine those limey stuff-shirts need to cram it where the sun don't shine...

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 12:33pm

    It is obvious that the students need to unwind after a stressful semester at school. It is also obvious that the cost of cleaning up a mess like that would be costly, especially if it was done in doors. However each side is not going to stop their actions so a compromise needs to be found. I would suggest that Oxford should come up with some authorized activities for the students after the semester is over. This way it can justify fines for cleanup and repair of non-authorized activities.

    One question I have for the staff is if any of them attended Oxford did they take part in such activities and if so how would they feel if the college fined them for such activities?

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 12:37pm

    It is quite humorous that the students would be claiming violation of privacy. Posting pictures up on the internet is basically the same as announcing in public what you did. If I trashed a dorm room and then walked around the campus shouting to anyone in ear shot what I did it and got fined would that be considered violation of privacy? After all they were listing to my conversation.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 1:39pm

    Re: WTF?

    "they would prefer them to be depressed and sulk around campus"


    i really doubt that oxford would want to turn into the university of chicago

     

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  30.  
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    BTR1701, May 6th, 2008 @ 3:44pm

    Re: What?

    > They're fining students for cleaning/repair expenses.

    Nothing in the article indicates that's why they're being fined. Nor does it say they're only fining students who live in university housing. The news report presented it as a decorum/behavior control issue.

    If I'm in my own apartment or out on my own front lawn and want to spray champagne on myself and my friends, it's none of the university's business.

     

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  31.  
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    TD, May 6th, 2008 @ 4:24pm

    Standard...

    It is not just Oxford where students are fined for post-exam trashings. Edinburgh students are fined Ā£50 (so $100+) for similar stuff if you're caught. You also get threatened with not graduating...

    It doesn't cost Ā£50 to mop up a small mess, but I do see their point and if there was no disincentive then it would just escalate. If you post your pics for everyone to see on Facebook though, you can't really complain if you get incriminated by them - there are privacy settings for just that.

     

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  32.  
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    Daz, May 6th, 2008 @ 7:21pm

    How often to you photograph yourself...

    I bet some of the people caught in the photos did not post those photos.

     

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  33.  
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    Washii (profile), May 6th, 2008 @ 11:06pm

    Re: Re: What?

    @ post 30 (BTR1701):

    Thank you! This was going to be my exact point.

    When fining students, are the administrators actually checking to see if these actions are taking place on the school's property? Because, if not, it seems that fining them could easily become an illegal offense. Maybe fraud?

    I was fairly sure that either here or Britain, the '3rd party' (Oxford) can't fine '1st' and '2nd parties' for causing 'damage/cleanup' in places that are not owned/administered by the '3rd party.'

    If I'm wrong, then there should be plenty of fines for all those Spring Breakers that go everywhere and cause 'damage and cleanup costs' at myriads of non-'3rd party' owned 'establishments'.

     

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  34.  
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    Igor The Troll, May 7th, 2008 @ 12:32am

    Big Brother is Watching! Welcome to Orwellian society. CIA, FBI, and other special interest groups are social engineering Wikipedia with deceptive and distorted information. Wikipedia-Igorberger-Mediation User beware. Take everything you read on the Internet with a large grain of salt. Never publish any information, even through email, that you do not want to become public. If you do not want someone to know it, keep it to yourself!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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