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Oxford Fines Rowdy Students Based on Facebook Images

Oxford University has begun fining students whose Facebook profiles contain pictures of  "trashings," a  flavor of rowdiness that Oxford undergraduates indulge in after final exams. Trashings involve getting covered in eggs and flour by fellow revelers. The fines range from $80 to $200, according to an Associated Press report.

Martin McCluskey, president of the Oxford University Students Union, told the AP that he sent e-mails to all members of the union warning them that the administration was spying on their Facebook pages. "It's fairly disgraceful and underhanded," McCluskey told the AP. "Disciplinary procedures are supposed to be transparent."

A university spokesman told the AP the fines were instituted after the school began receiving complaints of unruly student behavior.

"The university proctors have told the students that they are welcome to meet their friends after their exams but that students who create a mess in the street with food or alcohol or who indulge in anti-social behavior contrary to University regulations will be disciplined," said the spokesman, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The student union advised students with Facebook accounts to alter privacy settings "to prohibit members of staff and faculty from viewing your profile and photographs."

Alex Hill, 21, a philosophy and mathematics student at Oxford, told the  AP that she received a disciplinary e-mail stating that three of her photos provided evidence of "disorderly" conduct. "They gave me links to three photos on Facebook where I've got shaving foam all over me as examples of my disorderly conduct. I think it's an appalling thing to do" she said.

The university first introduced fines for misdemeanors, including fluid spraying and egg hurling, in 2004.

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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