In the age of social media, Trinity faculty are learning how to use online platforms to interact with students in new ways.
â€œDonâ€™t know. But SGA would be paid from activity fee not tuition so your platform is wrong. Punk. Oh, I guess that makes it a yes,â€ tweeted David Tuttle, dean of students.
This tweet was in response to a student tweeting a picture asking Tuttle if he was being bullied. While this interaction may seem harsh, it is simply Tuttleâ€™s way of interacting with students.
â€œTo me, what Iâ€™m trying to do is have dialogues and relationships and not have it be bland, because otherwise I wonâ€™t do it. I mean, this is what you get when you work with me. Iâ€™m sarcastic, Iâ€™m snarky, I try to be funny and I try to take risks with what I put out there. Sometimes they land and sometimes they miss,â€ Tuttle said.
Tuttle said that Twitter provides a unique platform for creating dialogue with members of the Trinity community, especially students.
â€œTwitter has its own kind of culture, and itâ€™s less formal and it allows people the opportunity for back and forth, and so to me it was not so much a matter of people looking in, although it could be â€” to me it was just a matter of joking with him,â€ Tuttle said.
Students like Jonah Wendt, a sophomore that Tuttle has interacted with on Twitter, agree that the back-and-forth is done in a joking manner.
â€œThat was just kind of funny. I tweeted at him â€˜Hey do you think Iâ€™m being bullied,â€™ and he responded with something funny. Itâ€™s funny back-and-forth; I wouldnâ€™t really consider that as being called out,â€ Wendt said.
Joel Holmes, sophomore, agrees that the interactions that he has with Tuttle are purely for laughs.
â€œWe have a pretty decent relationship, so I took it in a joking manner. I didnâ€™t really take offense to it,â€ Holmes said.
However, Holmes does acknowledge that the conversations could come across as unusual to an outsider.
â€œI think itâ€™s just subjective. It comes down to personal preference. I personally donâ€™t mind him having fun with his job and interacting with students and getting to know students better. I know heâ€™s actively trying to find more students to interact with. I can see how some people could see it as unprofessional or overstepping his boundaries, but I personally think itâ€™s fine,â€ Holmes said.
Tuttle acknowledges that, while he always tweets students in jest, he makes sure the students feel comfortable with coming to him if he crosses a line.
â€œI enjoy those interactions with them and if I ever got crosswise with them, and I have on other things, I think, then we work that out separate, but you know, I think I have enough of a filter to kind of, sometimes itâ€™s broken, but I think I have enough of one to be careful in what I do,â€ Tuttle said.
Wendt does believe that Tuttleâ€™s tweeting allows him to do his job in a novel way.
â€œIt definitely helps him look down to earth and that he cares about people. You know heâ€™s looking through his Twitter feed and seeing if students are complaining about stuff, so it definitely is part of his job,â€ Wendt said.
Tuttle hopes to have more interactions with students through social media.
â€œI donâ€™t know how many students use Twitter, but I would love to have more back-and-forth with students on Twitter like I have with the people Iâ€™ve already talked about,â€ Tuttle said.
Students interested in following Tuttle on Twitter can follow him @TUdean.