“Where Y'all Goin," an Instagram page that reposted videos of students violating COVID-19 protocol, was recently taken down after its owner/account manager was doxxed.
Here, members of our Editorial Board give their take on the situation:
Vance Stiles, Editorial Board member:
“Where Y’all Goin?” More like “what y’all thinking.” For most of the fall, the University and Chapel Hill Police stood idly by as student violations of COVID-19 standards ran rampant. It could have been expected that student frustration over a lack of enforcement led to the “exposing” of those who were visibly flaunting COVID-19 rules on social media.
In an effort to carry out some form of vigilante justice, “Where Y'all Goin” snowballed itself into a shutdown. This entire saga reminds me of something my high school coach always told me: “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”
Don’t forget, throughout this entire saga, the University maintained a process to report violations, and the account had the link to that in their bio. So how much did the existence of “Where Y’all Goin” detract from students directly reporting these violations? We might not know.
However, it did overshadow the reporting process and distracted from how the University was dealing with COVID-19 violations.
Caitlyn Yaede, Editorial Board member:
The existence of this Instagram page as a means to bring accountability to students who violated COVID-19 guidelines should not have been surprising. Since the fall, the University and Chapel Hill Police have ignored parties and large gatherings on campus, in off-campus apartments and in fraternity houses.
A student, deeply upset by this blatant disregard for health and safety, took matters into their own hands by creating an online space where students could shed light on their peers who went out of their way to make Chapel Hill a more dangerous place.
It is brave to call out your own classmates when they commit wrongdoings. The events that transpired are disappointing, to say the least. It is disappointing that students were willing to go to such lengths as to dox the personal information of the account owner, all out of a fear of accountability.
This action is a reflection of the student body’s behavior throughout the entirety of the pandemic: rash, irresponsible and afraid of being held accountable.
JC Leser, Editorial Board member:
The situation is all around unfortunate. "Where Y'all Goin" was an effective measure of student accountability. However, some students that followed the page decided to take “justice” into their own hands, threatening students that made an appearance on the page as breaking COVID-19 community standards. Enforcement of these standards is the responsibility of UNC, not “vigilantes.”
The presence of the page and the “vigilantes” led to the "Where Y’all Goin" page administrators being doxxed, and these threats they received in turn were also unacceptable. UNC needs to put more effort into rooting out threats of violence on campus to prevent these scenarios. Everyone should feel safe on campus.
Abbas Hasan, Editorial Board member:
The collapse of "Where Y’all Goin" should be of no surprise. There was an overwhelming lack of coordination on what students could do. Like much of the information students received on returning to campus, there seemed to be loopholes and exceptions throughout the plan. This created the opportunity for "Where Y’all Goin" to thrive.
Making COVID-19 regulations contingent on student accountability was asking to create an environment where peers turned on each other. The students who blatantly disregarded COVID-19 regulations should absolutely be held responsible.
"Where Y’all Goin" was a unique source of accountability that hinted at the possibility of actual consequences for students. Even the thought of real consequences scared students to the point where they forced the account to shut down and went after its administrators.
There is much to be said about the ethics of sharing people’s information online without their consent, but the onus of maintaining COVID-19 accountability should not have been placed on students in the first place.
Callie Xu, Editorial Board member:
Those who disregard COVID-19 regulations come from a place of privilege, and it’s time that they recognize that. They’re in a position where they can afford to ignore these guidelines because the consequences don’t affect them adversely enough for them to care. Publicly shaming individuals for not following these restrictions is harsh, but for some, it’s the only way to bring to their attention just how reckless their actions are. There is only so much that a UNC-sanctioned reporting form can do.
At the end of the day, targeting the owners of the account, doxxing and threatening them is unacceptable. “Where Y’all Goin” was supposed to foster an atmosphere of liability to encourage all students to implement safe practices during a pandemic. The fact that the situation escalated to the point where the owners were harassed speaks volumes on the lengths that certain students will go to ensure that they’re not held accountable.
Raymond Pang, Editorial Board member:
I’m sure the former owners of the “Where Y’all Goin” page didn’t intend the account to become so big or so influential, and yet, it did. However, because of that, the page had a massive target on its back, especially when the posts became more consistent after the spring semester began.
The concept of a watchdog account that would try to hold students accountable was always going to fail, and more so, was always going to cause a big pushback, especially from those who were featured in its posts.
The biggest problem with accounts like “Where Y’all Goin” is that while they do try to hold students accountable for their actions, they do so in a manner that only fosters more hate and dissent, as evidenced by the many comments that accused the owners of “having nothing better to do” or “starting witch hunts.”
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