Northampton Community College is caught in the dark side of the web as school officials say an anonymous individual or group of individuals are operating an offensive Twitter account called NCC Confessions.
Officials say the account, spewing hateful messages which college president Mark H. Erickson describes as "vile and demeaning," does not in any way represent the values and ideals of the college.
Erickson, in a statement, condemns in strong terms the underground activity saying "comments posted on this site violate the very essence of our shared college values and mission".
The president emphasizes that he strongly supports First Amendment rights and believes in freedom of expression critical to the intellectual discourses at the heart of the college's mission but speech that is hurtful and demeaning has no place at NCC, the college executive says.
The president is calling on the perpetrators posting those comments to stop and he is calling on members of the NCC community to stand firmly, lock arms and say no to any member of that community who spreads hate or demeans and bullies others.
School officials say they have taken steps and have asked Twitter to take down the account but they have little confidence that will happen.
A post on the fake site says if Twitter shuts down the account another one will be created.
Given how easy it is to create an account on Twitter, it would be a challenge for college officials to keep up.
Director of Public Information and Community Relations, Heidi Butler, said in a statement that "though it is often just best to ignore individuals who are seeking attention on social media, bullying is a different matter. It needs to be confronted, not ignored."
She also added that the comments on the Twitter feed are not representative of the climate at Northampton.
Butler commended the students at the college who are very supportive of each other and who, to their credit she said, are showing a great deal of maturity about the situation.
Butler said most of the students are choosing to focus on the positive relationships they have built at NCC and also focusing on their studies especially at such a busy time of the semester.