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University hosts Facebook livestream about strategies for cybersecurity

University is trying new ways of communicating with students

After online threats were made against Student Government President Taylor Dumpson on Thursday night, the University is providing students with “strategies for cybersecurity and personal protection” through a Facebook livestream on Friday afternoon, according to the University’s Facebook page.  

Teresa Flannery, the University’s vice president for communications, sent an email alert to the university community Friday morning about the threats made against Dumpson and the University’s efforts to provide resources to students. 

Friday’s Facebook livestream was held at noon and was moderated by Flannery and Doug Pierce, Assistant Director of Physical Security and Police Technology. The pair discussed tips and techniques for how students could enhance personal online security and safety. 

“We have seen just too many expressions of hate and bigotry,” Flannery said during the livestream. “They require all of us to respond. All of us need to speak up about our values.” She is hoping to develop new strategies for communications following the SG town hall organized by Dumpson on Thursday afternoon.

Pierce’s main recommendations for personal safety were to restrict public access to social media accounts, remove personal information from the Internet, deny friend requests from strangers, turn off location features on external apps and create another e-mail address specifically for social media accounts. 

Flannery and Pierce also answered questions from viewers and discussed how to take action if a student was harassed online, as well as the kinds of resources available from the University.

“We recommend that students who are feeling any sort of anxiety, not sure of what to do in terms of support go directly to the Dean of Students Office, or directly contact them at dos.american.edu,” Flannery said. She also noted that Mary Clarke, Senior Vice Provost, is communicating to faculty about self-care and how to support students during finals. 

Flannery also that the University’s new core curriculum will give students an “initial education” about issues of “race, identity and privilege” to give students a space in their first-year on campus to constructively build on their notions about identity. The program, called “AU Experience,” will continue to be piloted in the 2017-2018 academic year and will be fully implemented in the fall 2018 semester.

Flannery said that the course, American Experience II, taken during the second semester for 1.5 credits will be the most critical course in AUx in fostering conversations of inclusion on campus as they will be mandatory for new students. 

“This is really helping students in a pretty small environment to think with their colleagues about their own identities, about the identity of others and how interactions are informed by those identities in ways that can be more constructive,” Flannery said during the livestream. 

The University Police also released a “Safety Advisory” at 11 a.m. on Friday about “Responding to and Preventing Cyber Harassment.” This is seemingly the first revisions in the AU Alerts system, which SG Secretary Kris Schneider said was the most “immediate” action that the University was taking to improve safety on campus in an interview on Thursday.

nturner@theeagleonline.com