Facebook groups foster community discussion

Katie Maraldo '21, Staff Writer

Facebook groups, a type of messaging room that has been around for a decade, have rapidly grown their popularity in recent years. With the recent pandemic and all of the events going on in the world recently, they have become very popular within communities. Jennifer Blount Goosen, a candidate for the GPPSS School Board, is involved in many groups, but focuses centrally on the GPPSS Discussion group.
As both a member of the community and a mother, Goosen is very involved in these discussions and uses them to bring forth the ideas of racial justice and equality.
“I decided to join multiple Facebook groups because I’m an activist,” Goosen said. “I work for congresswoman Lawrence and all of the Grosse Pointes are in her district, so I wanted to make sure that I was keeping track of what was happening around here. Also, I’m an older millennial so I’m a social media person, but the older people tend to use Facebook more.”
Grosse Pointe South student Olivia Frye, ‘22, is also involved in the GPPSS discussion forum and uses it in a more bystander way.
“I’m afraid if I do speak up, I will be shut down or criticized right away,” Frye says. “I don’t mind sitting back and reading the parent’s conversation and most of the arguments are entertaining and pretty informative if you look past the subtle rudeness and arrogance of some members.”
GPPSS discussion administrator Christina McAlinden was one of the founders of the group. Her role in the discussion is to “make sure that everyone is following the rules of the group”.
“We try to make sure that everyone who posts in the group and makes comments on posts stays on topic about our Schools,” McAlinden said.
As a candidate for School Board, Goosen says that she thinks that using social media like Facebook groups is beneficial in this day and age.
“Before, all anybody would know about you is what you put on a flyer or in an ad,” Goosen said. Now, people can look at what I’m saying not only in these groups, but they can look on my public Facebook page and see what I’m about, they can see pictures of me and my actual life and things like that, so I think it helps to create less distance between me and votes.” .
Frye expresses that being a part of the GPPSS group discussion has opened her eyes to many things in the community.
“Being in the group discussion has made me see that a lot of (Grosse Pointe)is split about many issues,” Frye said. “For example, a lot of parents like to just make posts about how their student is struggling with virtual learning and how they want to go back to (face-to-face) as quickly as possible. There are others who don’t complain, but rather accept the situation we’re in and praise our faculty.”
McAlinden explained that arguing in the group can be both a positive and negative thing.
“I feel that it is ok to debate or disagree, but kindness is always required,” McAlinden said.
As a parent in the community, Goosen uses her platform to spread awareness about marginalized groups.
“I do a lot of work in the areas of racial justice,” Goosen said. “My oldest kid is a member of the LGBTQ+ community and they’re a senior at (Grosse Pointe) North, so when I’m participating, I’m usually trying to make sure that issues for people who are marginalized are being brought up because I think in our community, people are nice, but we still have a ways to go to get to equity.”
Frye, however, does not think that the parents in the group are always beneficial to the students, although she believes that people like Goosen are.
“As a student in the GPPSS, I don’t think the parents in the group are always helpful,” Frye said. “Their constant back and forth of “I’m right” or “no, this is the correct way” almost defeats the purpose of a ‘discussion’. I think a lot of the parents base their words off of their feelings towards a subject and not their child’s wellbeing, although some do try to contribute to the betterment of the schools.”
McAlinden explained that she uses her social media platforms to keep people in the community informed about schools.
“We try our best to post as much as possible in our Facebook Groups,” McAlinden said. “We encourage our community to post questions or information as well.”