Three students had their access to the Portal blocked last term after posting negative tweets about the University, despite deleting them soon afterwards.
One of the students told Leeds Student how they were made to attend a cautionary meeting, where they were told that the ban would not be lifted until a direct apology for tweets had been given to and accepted by the lecturer the tweets mentioned.
One of the tweeters expressed their concern that the University monitoring social networks made them a cyber “Big Brother”.
The University responded saying: “We can confirm that the ISS accounts of a small number of students were temporarily blocked after they made negative comments about lecturers on University wifi during University hours.”
Tweets describing the lecturer as “boring”, among other jibes, also included a hashtag mentioning Leeds. Those involved had also said they were Leeds University students in their Twitter bios.
One of the tweeters in question claimed that the one-to-one meeting was “intimidating” and “felt like more than just a slap on the wrist”.
When asked about the meetings the University explained: “when the individuals reported to Helpdesk they were asked to talk to the IT Security Co-ordinator, which is the normal process. The details of the action taken are regarded as confidential.”
The individual added that the ban was not put in place until about one month after the tweets were published and that the University did not initially connect the incident with the punishment.
They claimed: “they closed my portal during exam period and I couldn’t check for work shifts”.
One of the students was quick to assert that the comments were “clearly in jest” and sent “without malice”.
It is University policy to monitor students’ personal media accounts. In its terms and conditions the University states: “Do not post anything on a social networking site (e.g. YouTube, Facebook, etc.), blog, forum, etc. that could be offensive or bring the University’s name into disrepute.”