Sophomore Pat Donahue decided something was missing at Trinity. He did something about it, developing an on-line forum specifically for Trinity students. The forum, My Tiger Talk, which is not sanctioned by the University, has been featured in the Trinitonian and become quite popular with a segment of the student body. From a technical standpoint, it is masterfully run. It is current, well-organized, and Mr. Donahue (one of the few who attaches his names to his well-argued posts) has proven to be an excellent moderator, though as far as I know - anything goes.
I was first introduced to the list by Mr. Donahue himself, when he shared, in a show of fair-play, a post of his, critical of University policy and, by inference, me. I went on the list and responded, only to find my response was not positively accepted by the masses. After reading some posts that I found disheartening, I swore off ever returning. Mr. Donahue and I met for a cup of coffee to discuss the list in person rather than over e-mail. Since he and I agree on practically nothing, it was a spirited conversation. My goal was to explain why the list didn't deserve my attention. Instead, he convinced me to keep reading and posting, though my cyber trips to the list often seem to ruin my day.
I have stuck with it for now. It's maddening, crude, lacks reason, is bereft of substance, and is misogynistic. It is also interesting, clever, and laugh-out-loud funny. At its best, it has drawn some new students to the Trinity Alcohol Coalition.
My Tiger Talk keeps drawing me in. I have become somewhat addicted. At first, that addiction was really about damage control and defending myself. (My colleague, Ben Newhouse, thinks someone has been posting under my name by the way, but I haven't seen that. Mine are from me.) Eventually, I was drawn into the more tawdry topics too. It is no surprise that one of the topics with the most hits is simply "Sex." The biggest hit on the list so far? "The Maid Caught Me..." at over 1,200 hits. And it is a particularly unsatisfying post. Even the posts on politics, the ones intended to be substantive, deal more with the likes of Sarah Palin's beauty pagent resume than her views.
At a time when Trinity University is being lauded for its work on information literacy, this list can be viewed as its opposite. If logic doesn't work, name-calling can put a wrap on any conversation. Most posts that lead with "I heard..." are generally full of falsehoods if not downright lies. Yet they are taken as the truth unless otherwise challenged. And even then, they can be dismissed by those who are negative or critical.
What's missing are the contrary voices to the... contrary voices. One post-er asks for the positive reasons to attend Trinity (for a transfer friend) and the few responses question why anyone would transfer to Trinity. That seems peculiar to me. I could give a dozen reasons without thinking about it, but would be seen simply as a Trinity mouth-piece. I heard many tales at Family Weekend about the students here, and their love for their experience. If I were to only read this list I would want to transfer too though.
I like that there is a forum like this. It's raw, unedited, and dynamic. To not be on is to not be heard, in my opinion. But where are the other voices from this campus? For this list to realize its potential it can - and should be - an honest forum with civil discourse. The conversation so far seems pretty one-sided. I suspect Mr. Donahue would agree with me on this, if nothing else. Voices of reason: get involved on this list.