University Marketing & Communications

January 31, 2014

University of Illinois social media team responds to Twitter attacks on chancellor

Kelly Huffman

From the Midwest, here’s a chilling example of digital hate-mongering and how a university social media team rose above the fray.

Some University of Illinois students, unhappy with Chancellor Phyllis Wise’s decision this week to hold classes despite extreme cold, responded with an avalanche of racist, sexist tweets. Besides vulgar references to female anatomy, many of the tweets focused on Wise’s Asian-American heritage.

Could it happen here? Inside Higher Ed did a thoughtful piece about the Twitter attacks, which included perspective from UW Bothell Chancellor Bjong Wolf Yeigh.

Within a couple of days of the attacks, the Illinois Facebook team posted a response from Chancellor Wise. And, per the U of I Twitter feed, the university will host a forum called “Moving Beyond Digital Hate” next week. 

Hats off to the Illinois team’s thoughtful response, and here’s hoping the incident leads to greater respect and civility—both digitally and in person.