The Class of 2021 Facebook group is here to stay, the Admissions Office confirmed Tuesday morning.
The announcement followed The Daily Pennsylvanian two months ago that he was considering disbanding the group after a certain date, such as the May 1 enrollment deadline.
“The Class of 2021 Facebook group will remain active this year, barring any unforeseen issues,” Vice Dean and Director of Marketing and Communications Kathryn Bezella said in an emailed statement.
The discussion over whether to eliminate the Facebook group stemmed from revelations last November that one of the individuals responsible for the racist GroupMe messages used his access to the private Class of 2020 Facebook group — which he joined because he was admitted to Penn — to add members of the class to his offensive GroupMe.
Bezella said the Admissions Office will be working with other departments to moderate the group, especially after the incoming class arrives on campus in August.
“Admissions has collaborated with New Student Orientation, the Registrar’s Office, and the Office of Student Affairs to develop a plan to manage enrollment in, and content for, the private Facebook group for admitted students,” Bezella said in the statement. “[We] will reevaluate the plan on an annual basis.”
“The potential benefits of having the Facebook group beyond the move-in date for that class does outweigh the possible potential dangers,” Class of 2021 admitted student Will Castner said.
“Especially for someone like me, who doesn’t go to a high school with other students from the class, the Facebook group is still the only way I have contact with my classmates until I move in in August,” Castner added. “Deleting it on May 1 would restrict contact I have with the rest of my class between now and August.”
Class of 2021 admit Julci Areza holds a similar viewpoint to Castner, in that she would advocate for some preventative measures to ensure the privacy of the group but wouldn’t want to group to be fully disbanded after the May 1 reply deadline.
“As much as I know that it’s important to try and avoid something so horrible from happening again, I don’t think we should overlook the benefits that the Facebook group has to offer,” Areza said. “At first I was kind of intimidated and didn’t know what to expect, but seeing everyone’s posts makes [the class] so much more real and human.”
However, not all admitted students are on board.
Although Class of 2021 admit Kirti Shenoy has used the Facebook group to organize meetups with fellow classmates, she would support the creation of a new Facebook group after the May 1 reply date only for students who’ve committed to Penn.
“That way, we know that every single person that we’re talking to is for sure going to Penn,” Shenoy said. “In that sense, it would be a little bit safer and a little bit nicer because you know that everybody in the new group will be officially at Penn.”
While Shenoy personally prefers Instagram — she enjoys engaging with fellow classmates through their photos — she acknowledged the Facebook group has drawn the largest population of students and has generated a constant stream of activity.
“People comment and make new posts every single day,” she said.