Students, campus leaders weigh entertainment vs. harm of SUNY Party Stories

It’s 6 o’clock on a Sunday night and Oswego State students, as well as many other SUNY students, are logging on to Twitter to see what party pictures made the cut in this weekend’s contest.

The Twitter account @SUNYPartyStory is the host. The party pictures consist of content that some find entertaining and others look at as offensive. Content in the pictures has included the use of alcohol, sexual intercourse and unconscious college students in different scenarios.

Claire Lacure, an Oswego State freshman, is one of the account’s 30,000 plus followers.

“It’s outrageous,” Lacure said. “Me and my friends always text and talk about it. (For) me and my roommate, it’s a ritual.”

The operator of the SUNYPartyStories account, who chooses to remain anonymous, said the site takes in close to 500 submissions a week, but the number goes up every week. He chooses the pictures that stand out the most.

“We go through all the submissions and whatever ones make us laugh out loud or gasp we take down,” the operator of SUNYPartyStories said. “And then we normally get a list of 40 to 50 and then we go through those and pick out the best ones.”

Full interview with operator of SUNYPartyStories

According to the operator of the account, the idea for the account came from one of the operator’s friends who runs a similar account that has to do with partying at Michigan State. The site has grown from 1,000 to 30,000 followers since mid-September, gaining 5,000 followers after last Sunday’s contest alone.

(Devon Nitz | The Oswegonian)
(Devon Nitz | The Oswegonian)

“The more followers you gain, the more followers you gain, if that makes sense,” the account operator said. “The higher it is, the faster your rate becomes because the more people are spreading it around.”

The content posted onto the account has created controversy, raising issues such as the account using the name SUNY in its title. Julie Blissert, director of public affairs at Oswego State said the college and the SUNY system are aware of the Twitter account.

“I know that SUNY has taken steps to have the site taken down,” Blissert said.

While the operator can see why the account can cast a negative image of the SUNY system with the content that it posts, the account is not an attack on the SUNY system, the account operator said.

“I’m simply exposing the reality of what is happening within their walls,” the account operator said.

When it comes to content that is put out about the SUNY system, the school and SUNY cannot control free speech, Blissert said.

“In a way, this is a business,” Blissert said. “It would be like if I was talking about a bar downtown or a theatre in Syracuse. We don’t really take positions on these kinds of things.”

Lacure has had a submission she sent in and a picture of her make it onto the SUNYPartyStories Twitter account. Lacure said she got the consent of her friend. The photo was of Lacure’s friend being handcuffed in front of a cop car.

“I talked to my friend about it first,” Lacure said. “But I just thought the picture was so funny because my friend is such like a good girl, goes to church all the time, which is why the caption was ‘She goes to church.’”

As for her picture making the site, Lacure said she like the feeling.

“It’s just kind of cool to have your picture up there and you know how many people see it,” Lacure said. “It’s like a little fame type of thing.”

What do Oswego students think of SUNYPartyStories?

The operator of the site feels social media has become part of people’s social life and people feel gratification by posting on the account.

“When people get all their retweets and stuff on Twitter it gives them that same sensation as getting attention in person,” the account operator said.

The operator also feels that the activities on the account are just part of the culture of college.

“People take pride in their partying,” the account operator said.

Even though Lacure liked having her picture on the account, she is glad her photo was not some of the more graphic pictures, referring to pictures of sex and one she labeled “entry number five.”

“Entry number five” is a picture of a male passed out on a bathroom floor after releasing his bowels, with feces prominently all over himself and the bathroom floor.

“If that were me, yes I would find it offensive, but in my position I’m not offended,” Lacure said.

When asked about some of the more graphic images and consequences of having the site, the operator wanted to get across the point that the account was not responsible for the content and is providing a platform for the pictures to be posted referring to the account as “the middle man.”

A concern about the account is that students in the photos may not be giving the consent for the photos to be posted online. Photos would be taken down if the person in the photo asked for the picture to be taken down, the operator said.

“Oh yeah,” the operator of the account said. “I’d take it down right away and I probably have one person a week ask to have it taken down. I completely respect that.”

The winner of last week’s contest was a photo of two people having sex on a bathroom floor with their faces away from the camera. On Wednesday night, the photo could not be found on the site and was no longer the cover picture of the account.

The account continues to build its popularity and Lacure feels the growth will continue.

“The more scandalous the pictures get, the more viewers want to read,” Lacure said.

Blissert hopes that students take pride in the college they attend and the image that it portrays.

“Speaking for the college, I have an interest in the college’s reputation,” Blissert said. “So I would think students who go here would also have an interest in the college’s reputation.”