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JuicyCampus site set to shut down today

Looks like the juice wasn't worth the squeeze.

Popular gossip Web site JuicyCampus.com will shut down today because of the faltering economy, JuicyCampus Founder and Chief Executive Officer Matt Ivester, Trinity '05, announced Wednesday.

"Even with great traffic and strong user loyalty, a business can't survive and grow without a steady stream of revenue to support it," Ivester said in a statement. "In these historically difficult economic times, online ad revenue has plummeted and venture capital funding has dissolved. JuicyCampus' exponential growth outpaced our ability to muster the resources needed to survive this economic downturn."

The site, which first surfaced on Duke's campus in 2007, allows users to post anonymously to message boards for more than 500 colleges across the nation. It has accumulated numerous messages targeting individual students and has sparked controversy surrounding legal and ethical issues since its inception.

Duke and other universities' officials and students have called the site repulsive and devastating-but it has still gotten hits. Still, according to the JuicyCampus blog, Ivester said the decision to take the site down was unrelated to legal investigations or feedback from universities. No plans are currently in place to resuscitate the Web site, he said.

"I will always be a proponent of free speech," Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek said. "That being said, I'm delighted that [Ivester] has made a decision to take this site down. I think that's good news."

Ivester, however, disagrees. In an e-mail to The Chronicle Wednesday, the Duke alumnus said the site's termination is not something to be pleased about, and the gossip Web site would be "thriving" if economic conditions were different.

"JuicyCampus' shutdown is not a positive change for campus-the issues brought up by JuicyCampus will continue to exist," he said. "It will simply be easier to ignore those issues without our site."

Some administrators said they are skeptical that the loss of JuicyCampus would change the dynamic of campus gossip. Ivester signs his statement with "keep it juicy," and students may follow through.

"This is not going to solve the issue," said Stephen Bryan, associate dean of students and director of judicial affairs. "As soon as JuicyCampus shuts down, something else is going to spring up in its place. There are larger issues of Internet and anonymity and how we as a culture use the medium to express things that we wouldn't say to others to their face."

But Ivester said in the statement that the site has offered a "platform that students have found interesting, entertaining and fun," and has opened discussion about Internet censorship and privacy. He added that the "mean-spirited posts and personal attacks" will not be missed, but the "lighthearted gossip of college life" that the site was intended for is the legacy he hopes to leave.

Although Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta does not expect much to change following the site's dissolution, he said he hopes a general trend of slander will ease.

"Rest in peace," Moneta said of the site's termination. "It had no impact in its existence, it'll have no impact in its death. Whatever short-term pains it has caused can be replaced by the next foolish look-alike. In the long run, it's meaningless-for each one that comes, one goes-but hopefully it'll diminish the next."

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