Students On Facebook: What are they thinking?

I'm officially one of the world's worst bloggers, since I haven't posted since the summer. Yes, I suck.

But now I'm compelled to share what I see as a bit of an ethical dilemma. Maybe it's an ethical dilemma. I'm not sure. Maybe you can tell me.

I teach at a university. I don't friend students on FB, but if they friend me, I accept. This semester quite a few students friended me at the beginning of the year. Now, my university has a strict attendance policy which I adhere to. A certain number of absences and I can drop students for non-attendance--even if they were legitimately sick. There are no official excuses except for university-related events.

A few students exceeded their allotment (which is generous--six days for a MWF class) and I dropped them. They claimed a variety of illnesses, but because they friended me, I could see they were well enough to hang out, post pics, and go to dinner with friends.

I didn't mention to the students that I could see their activities, because, duh, they friended me. But I wanted to say something like: You were well enough to go to the park on Thursday and pose with the sun in your eyes and a fall flower in your hand, so why not class?

And this is where FB gets tricky. It's an intersection of their private lives and their role as students (or employees or daughters or spouses). I would feel like a jerk if I brought it up, as if I'd been stalking them or crossed a privacy line. But we all know FB isn't private and I don't have to stalk them to see their posts. They just show up on my wall. That's kinda the point.

Would I have been more inclined to cut them some slack if I hadn't seen their activities? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. Would you?

The best advice for students is quite simple: Don't friend your profs until after the class is over.
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