A Crown Heights girls’ school is throwing the book at its Facebook users.
Last Thursday, the Orthodox Jewish Beis Rivkah high school pulled aside every 11th grader with a Facebook account and handed her a slip of paper that presented two options: either delete her Facebook profile and pay a $100 fine to the school, or be expelled, as reported by the Huffington Post.
The school’s squeeze on social networking was motivated by a drop-off in student observance of Tznius—an Orthodox ethos of modesty in behavior and dress—according to an administrator at Beis Rivkah who spoke to crownheights.info on the condition of anonymity. The official said that the school attributed flagging regard for the moral code, at least in part, to Facebook.
“People on the board said it’s not proper for us to have Facebook because girls might be talking to boys on Facebook or they might be putting up immodest pictures,” an anonymous Beis Rivkah student told the Jewish newspaper the Algemeiner.
According to Principal Shaindel Teichtel, who also spoke to the Algemeiner, Beis Rivkah is merely enforcing a two-year-old no-Facebook policy and confronting the challenge of “balancing the gifts of an open society and the free-flowing information on the internet with providing our students with the best possible focus on their studies and spiritual growth.”
But some parents and students claim that it was the high school’s administration that originally emboldened students to get Facebook accounts when it canvassed for votes in a Facebook-based giveaway contest sponsored by Kohl’s, according to crownheights.info.
The Algemeiner obtained a copy of a mass email sent to parents of Beis Rivkah students at the time of the contest. It reads: “Dear Parents, although the policy of our school is not to allow the use of Facebook and it remains the policy of our school not to use Facebook, after consulting with Rabbonim [rabbis], due to the financial situation of the school, it was decided to make an exception. We are asking parents and alumni to vote for our school in the Kohl’s Facebook Contest.”
Regardless of whether the school is at fault in its crackdown on Facebook, one unnamed student who spoke to the Algemeiner doesn’t think the ban will have its intended effect. “For the girls who do put up those kind of pictures and talk to boys, they’ll talk to boys anyways,” she said.