Student reflects on questioned tweet
Luke Modzier revisits controversial message which nearly cost him his job as orientation leader
Professors and mentors sometimes warn students that their not-so-ethical social media posts, tweets or Facebook photos of sloppy nights can have negative repercussions in the professional world.
Although most believe privacy settings will protect them from facing these consequences, Luke Modzier, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, had his own social media content creep up from Twitter to haunt him.
Modzier, like any other student, said he involves himself in many extracurricular activities at the University. He works as a resident assistant in Tinsley Hall, an intern in the Office of Leadership and Training at the Douglass Campus Center and rows for the University’s crew team.
His well-rounded disposition earned him a position on the New Student Orientation staff, which mentors first-year students before experiencing University life hands-on, he said.
He said he spent the summer of 2011 after his first year in college working as a new student orientation leader, meeting new friends and enjoying his overall experience.
But Modzier said he posted a tweet on his personal Twitter account in October 2011 that almost prevented him from being rehired.
The tweet read: Im still amazed whenever im on busch as to the amount of asians here. #Practicallyinchina.
Modzier said he did not put much thought into the tweet before posting it.
“It was more of a social thing,” he said. “I thought I could be funny online, and people would like it and tweet what I said, and I could be popular. It was more of a popularity sort of thing. I could be the cool person who said something funny.”
But to the University, the tweet was more than a social thing. The University re-evaluates experienced orientation leaders in the fall to determine whether they should be rehired, he said.
After reading the tweet, Modzier said his boss hesitated to rehire him, but other members of the staff convinced her to give him a chance.
The University rehired him, and he spent the summer of 2012 working as an orientation leader. But he said he did not discover that his summer gig was in jeopardy until his boss addressed the issue during his exit review.
“It was just like a hit in the face, like oh my gosh, I didn’t know it was such a big deal. I had no idea that they were watching [my account] and caring,” he said.
But Modzier said his leadership skills displayed that summer overshadowed the negative message of his tweet.
“I actually … controlled the social media for the student orientation the second summer. They appreciated the manner I carried myself … I had a professional attitude, ready to do anything that needed to be done,” he said.
Catrina Gallo, a residence life educator on the College Avenue campus, said Modzier’s leadership skills were also applied to his position as a Residence Assistant.
“He always has such a positive outlook, is really visible in the community and helps numerous people with any issues that they have,” she said.
Learning about Modzier’s experience, the Office of Leadership and Training asked him to speak at their Mark Conference’s “Ignite” talks.
Nina Duong, coordinator of the event, said his experience is relevant to University students.
“[His story] was really crafted into something that was relevant to our current generation, in utilizing new technologies.”
Modzier said the crowd’s reaction to his speech proved that students often are not cautious when posting on the Internet.
“Somebody actually said, ‘I thought that was my tweet,’” he said. “That was a very common thing — many people said, ‘I’ve said that many times on Facebook and Twitter. That was super-relatable. I think it is a common trend here at Rutgers.”
Paul Solin contributed to this story.