"@SUNYPartyStory takes SUNY system by wildfire, and someone is always getting burned"
Check out The Spectrum's exclusive Q&A session at the end of the article
Brittany Herbert, a sophomore legal studies major and environmental studies minor, didn’t expect to walk into a group of strippers when she entered a party in the University Heights with some friends.
What she really didn’t expect was to see her photo as a finalist for last week’s SUNY Party Story contest.
If you’re a devoted Twitter user, or a college student, you probably already follow @UBProblems, an anonymous Twitter account sharing the various “problems” UB students face. But last year, a new anonymous Twitter brought a new level of “problems” for college students to indulge in. @SUNYPARTYSTORY shares not only the average “problems” college students face but also features pictures portraying the social lives, or mishaps, of SUNY students.
After a friend at Michigan State created a similar “Michigan State Party Stories” Twitter account, the creator decided to bring one to the SUNY system, the anonymous creator told The Oswegonian – the independent student newspaper of Oswego State University.
“I got the idea for SUNY because it’s such a good market and it’s so big and there’s definitely a lot of rivalry among the schools, so clearly, like, a big part of college is the social life and partying, so it’s almost like bringing a competitive edge to the system,” the creator told The Oswegonian.
With the account’s mission to “expose the reality of social life,” the creator who wishes to remain anonymous, doesn’t keep the same anonymity for the college students featured in the often embarrassing or exploitative pictures and tweets. The Twitter account, which is just over a year old, boasts more than 83,000 followers. Regardless of profanity, semi-nudeness or the casually sexist lingo, the account gains more followers, retweets and favorites with each photo shared.
In an interview with NYU Local, a blog ran by New York University students, the creator of the account excuses the inappropriate and often unconsented photos by stating, “It would have been posted on the Internet regardless.”
While Herbert thinks the account is funny and doesn’t find anything to be necessarily “wrong” with it, she does agree the issue of consent definitely surfaces.
“In this age, anyone can take a picture of anyone pretty easily without the other person knowing,” Herbert said. “I think the responsibility lies with the person holding the camera (or phone) to make a choice as to whether or not to share it, and deal with the implications of doing so.”
The creator of the account said that they often remove photos upon request, people can still find hashtags about the photo and reactions on Twitter, such as the infamous “#TheLegendOfEntry5,” which featured a male passed out on a bathroom floor with feces all over himself and the bathroom floor.
“We aren’t here to screw anybody over, nor are we ignorant to the fact that there could be consequences in this anal world,” the creator told NYU Local. “If you are in a picture and you’re uncomfortable with it or you didn’t give consent, then you tell us to take it down and it will be taken off immediately, simple as that.”
Every Monday, students from all of the SUNY campuses submit smartphone snaps of their crazy party pictures and send them into the creator. The photos are narrowed – ambiguously – based on what makes the creators and his roommates laugh the most and the photo that gets the most likes and retweets is the winner. The winning school holds bragging rights for submitting that week’s most provocative photo until next week’s competition winner is chosen.
While the creator originally held the contest each Sunday, he/she decided to move the submission deadline to Monday.
“[The contest] used to be Sundays, but you know, Sunday Funday,” the creator said in an email to The Spectrum. “Lots of cool stuff goes on then. We gotta’ include them, no discrimination in this nation.”
Herbert submitted a picture for the contest this year after attending a party with some of her friends at a University Heights house. She didn’t take the picture of the strippers with the intent on submitting it to the account.
But after finding the pictures on her phone the following morning, her friends encouraged her to submit one to SUNY Party Stories.
“I thought about it thinking if there would be any consequences, but I figured that out of all the pictures I took, the one I submitted was the least risqué,” Herbert said. “I made sure the strippers faces were not in the picture out of respect for them.”
While the account states in its bio for followers to submit photos at their own consent, Herbert understands there could be consequences after submitting a photo.
“I definitely didn’t want there to be any negative implications and so far there hasn’t been,” Herbert said. “I wouldn’t have posted anything that was going to get me in trouble.”
Submissions from UB students make the finals nearly each week. From jumping off roofs into friends’ arms to nearly naked photos, the stunts UB students pull receive anywhere from 200 to more than 700 favorites on Twitter.
“As for the people that are in the photo, I think it goes without saying that if you are in public doing something stupid, people will see it and know about and that is your own fault,” Herbert said. “It’s no breach of privacy if you’re willing to do something potentially embarrassing in a public setting.”
Q&A with @SUNYPartyStory
Editor’s note: The Spectrum conducted an email interview with the creator of @SUNYPartyStory. The content of the emails have not been altered in any way.
Q: How, why and when did SUNY Party Stories get started?
A: I was bored and Netflix wasn't loading so I was like, yeah.
Q: How many people are working behind of the account?
A: Myself and Intern Josh
Q: How many people behind the account are male/female?
A: We are a gender-neutral company
Q: Do you/anyone else behind the account all go to a SUNY school? And which one(s)?
A: Wouldn't you like to know
Q: What are some of the best submissions you’ve received?
A: We had a photo of a girl at Morrisville getting’ freaky on the cellar door. That caused a scene. There was also a picture of a dog doing a kegstand (clearly not actually drinking the beer, chill out PETA/PETA enthusiasts) – but it ended up being a monologue joke on Seth Meyer’s show which is funny even though Seth Meyer’s joke wasn’t that good.
Q: What do you hope to get from this account? What’s your goal?
A: God knows my degree isn't going to make me money, and I don't have the body for stripping.
Q: How were you able to obtain so many followers?
Q: Do more people submit ideas or do you find most of them on your own?
A: Ideas for what? The posts? Nah, I steal most of my filler-non-contest tweet. If you think that’s bad then I assume you get mad at Wal-Mart for selling the same stuff as Target. And that makes you look like the dummy.
Q: I noticed you hold different types of contests for your followers. What are some of the contests you hold and on average how many submissions do you get per contest?
A: Nah, the only contest we do is the picture contest. Every Monday at 7PM. It used to be Sundays, but you know, Sunday Funday. Lots of cool stuff goes on then. We gotta’ include them, no discrimination in this nation. So now it’s Monday at 7.
Q: Do you have any specific funny stories or submissions from UB students? Could you share them with me?
A: Buffalo, I would love to hang out with you in the near future. That’s all.
Q: Have you gotten any negative feedback from university administration or the SUNY system?
A: Yeah, they grillin’ me hardcore. But I know my rights, they can’t do anything.