The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

Blind Tiger and Similar Apps Blocked from Bates Wi-Fi, Drawing Mixed Reactions

Blind Tiger and similar apps have been blocked on Bates-provided internet networks, according to a May 20 email sent by President Garry Jenkins to students, faculty and staff.

The decision follows the most recent Bates College Student Government (BCSG) election, which included a referendum asking students whether BCSG should “take action to address the impact of Blind Tiger use on our campus community.” The referendum was approved by a significant margin, with 53% of student voters voting “yes,” 26% voting “no” and 21% voting “I don’t know.”

A screenshot from Apple’s App Store, showing Blind Tiger advertising itself as a space for anonymized connection.

In his email, Jenkins said that following the referendum, representatives of BCSG approached him and asked him to block school Wi-Fi access to Blind Tiger and other “anonymous, localized” social media apps. 

Such apps typically create message board forums limited to students from the same school, where users can post anonymous messages and “like” or comment on others’ posts. At Bates, Blind Tiger is the most popular and well-known; a similar app, Fizz, faced students’ accusations of unethical conduct when it attempted to popularize itself at Bates this fall.

Under the new policy, these apps will be inaccessible on Wi-Fi networks provided by the school, including both Bates Secure and Bates Open. 

They will still be accessible by using other sources of internet access, like cellular data networks and non-Bates Wi-Fi networks.

Even so, the move has pleased some students as a symbolic gesture. The block “show[s] that the college needn’t support something which for the most part is used to spread hate,” James Hillers ’26 wrote.

He thinks it might decrease usage of Blind Tiger, since the cumbersome act of switching between Wi-Fi and cellular data would be “just annoying enough” to discourage students from using it.

“It is a step towards making it less accessible,” he said.

Nina Greeley ’24 also favors the block. “Go Garry. That is a big statement coming from a president who actually shows up to student events,” she wrote to The Student.

“If everyone showed up for him at the inauguration and respects him like they say they do, they will honor Garry’s wishes,” Greely said.

Other students disagree. “I think this will just call attention to Blind Tiger and make people use it more,” Jeremy Schrieber ’24 said. In his opinion, the app was previously used “on a small portion of campus,” and many students “didn’t even bother with it.”

The step of enacting a ban, however, makes the apps “a little bit scandalous” and therefore intriguing to students, Schrieber said.

“The whole move just seems very reactionary and prohibitive in ways that don’t feel productive,” he said. “I think it will just be ineffective.”

Anonymous apps are common but controversial on the Bates campus. While they are sometimes used to share campus news and the kind of lighthearted commentary amplified on @BestOfBlindTiger, they can also spread negativity.

Blind Tiger is often the site of what Jenkins called “cyberbullying,” including insults, attacks on personal appearance and racism. In a March op-ed Jenkins wrote in The Student, he said bullying on the app was “even causing students to leave our community.” 

One student previously described the Blind Tiger atmosphere as “a sort of faceless witch hunt”; others say it has negatively impacted their mental health.

“People who have coherent and intelligent things to add to discourse should be platformed and those with nothing but anger and hate should be deplatformed,” Colby Green ’25 said, adding that Blind Tiger amplifies hate rather than nuance. “If people have something to say they should stand behind it,” he said.

A parent of a current student agreed that the app is frequently a source of what they called “microaggressions,” specifically in political conversations. “Protesting against war is one thing, but protesting against and calling out people such that fellow students start to feel unsafe is not the best way to agitate for change,” they wrote.

Some students worry that those kinds of personal attacks are indicative of deeper cultural problems. “The root of the issue is more so lack of education and/or empathy from the students that are posting heinous comments on the apps,” Sophie Hafter ’25 said. While Hafter hopes the apps themselves will identify negative comments and “somehow filter those out or censor them,” they believe that this alone will not entirely resolve social tensions.

In particular, Hafter identified hate speech as a cause for concern. “The rise of antisemitism on campus, on the app and around the world is horrific and I think limiting one of the platforms the hatred is being spread on is a smart move — but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” they said.

Hateful and bigoted posts like the ones that concern Hafter have not escaped the administration’s notice. In his email, Jenkins specifically condemned “cowardly antisemitic, anti-Arab, misogynistic, and racist messages” that “pollute” the culture of the college.

Jenkins’ email echoes comments he made in his previous op-ed. There, Jenkins decried the use of Blind Tiger “to demean and humiliate others … behind a veil of cowardly anonymity.” He urged students to take the steps necessary to make their online presence more positive or to cease using the application altogether. 

However, in both his op-ed and his May 20 email, Jenkins acknowledged that “the overwhelming majority” of students used the apps in positive ways. Similarly, some students defended the apps’ presence as a virtual ‘town square’ in which the helpful posts outweigh the harmful ones.

For instance, Schrieber said that Blind Tiger has positive uses to the community, such as “allow[ing] people a platform to express opinions that they might not feel comfortable sharing publicly.” He added, “Anonymity is a very powerful thing that does embolden people to be very hateful in a space with no repercussions which is terrible … [but] I think in general the benefits from having a space to speak anonymously outweigh the negatives.”

In particular, Schrieber praised the ability of Blind Tiger to disseminate information. “The way it is used as a mass communication tool is invaluable especially with no other alternative for students to broadcast information that quickly and widely,” he said, citing the example of students using apps to share news about the Lewiston mass shooting faster than official college updates.

“It has been used more right than not,” he said.

Schrieber also expressed concern about administrative overreach. While he recognizes the value of restricting access to certain content, like illegal websites, he does not think that the college should block social media. “When [administrators] are banning apps that are used to share opinions, however hateful they might be, it feels that they are getting close to infringing on our ability to communicate with each other freely,” he said. He added that he was frustrated that the ban was enacted this academic year while seniors, who were not able to vote in the referendum, were still students.

While Jenkins did not explicitly address free speech concerns in his letter, he wrote that the ban was intended to encourage a culture of mutual respect and diversity.

“I know we can do this,” he wrote, “and we’ll do it together.”

Additional reporting was provided by Catalina Passino ’26 and Max Olson ’25.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Bates Student
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Bates College and help us cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Maple Buescher
Maple Buescher, Editor-in-Chief
Maple is a junior from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, majoring in Politics with a minor in English. She is a member of the college orchestra, the sailing team, and the tennis and women's soccer clubs, and a devoted volunteer in the Lewiston elementary schools. She is a big fan of reading, writing, hiking, and snowball fights. Previously, Maple served as a staff writer and the Managing Arts & Leisure editor for The Bates Student. She is a regular columnist for The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Hannah Kothari
Hannah Kothari, Digital Editor
Hannah is a sophomore from Houston, Texas, majoring in Politics. When she isn’t completing an infinite amount of reading for her classes, she enjoys sneaking off to nearby mountains to hike and ski, snapping pictures of Maine’s natural beauty, and working on her newfound hobby of crochet. If you haven’t heard from her in a few hours, chances are she’s on the slopes of Sugarloaf Mountain. Previously, Hannah wrote for five magazine publications in her hometown of Houston. Her love for journalism was born in 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and her time at The Bates Student has continued to cultivate her passion for the art.
Donate to The Bates Student
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All comments must have an attached name and email. Please direct comments to the content of the article; attacking writers in any way, shape or form will not be tolerated. Any comments which do not meet these requirements will not be published.
All The Bates Student Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *