The blog is a powerful tool, but can it influence your decision on where to go to college? Apparently, our friendly and socially-awkward semi-rivals at M.I.T. think so, according to an article from the New York Times this week. The admissions office at the school has been hiring students to blog about their life and experiences as a student and posting them–uncensored–on the school’s web site for prospective applicants to read.
The article calls it a “powerful marketing tool,” and students interviewed by the reporter claim that reading some of these blogs really helped them get a feel for the school and decide they, too, wanted to attend M.I.T. And while other schools, including other semi-rivals of ours, have adopted similar strategies, the blogs at M.I.T. stand out because the admissions office doesn’t censor what the students say.
Knowing how much schools attempt to preserve their image and try to protect its sanctity at all costs–for example, notice how everything with the word “Stanford” on it that you own has an accompanying copyright mark to make sure nobody else can inappropriately use the name–the move to not censor student bloggers is unprecedented and extraordinarily admirable. The article notes that even when one student complained about the housing system in one of her blogs (a familiar complaint for students here), M.I.T. refused to take it down and instead worked to fix the housing problem at its core.
Granted, the admissions office hires the bloggers and therefore has control of who writes. But to remain committed to free speech above and beyond that basic level of control is not only admirable but makes M.I.T. look great. Think about the video of Lebron James getting dunked on that Nike confiscated so to protect James’ image–by confiscating the tapes, Nike made the incident into a far bigger problem than it originally was. Everybody knows that Lebron James, Stanford, and M.I.T. are not perfect, and M.I.T. is benefiting by acknowledging this fact and preserving relatively unobstructed free speech.
Don’t expect to see uncensored blogs coming from the Stanford admissions office any time soon. But, luckily, that’s why we have TUSB.