SUNY Party Stories Full Interview

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

How did you come up with the idea to start the account and why?

One of my friends at Michigan State runs an account very similar, Michigan State Party Stories essentially and 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.

I started this up last year in the second semester and it was pretty slow at first, as expected, because it’s kind of hard to advertise a Twitter account when you’re being anonymous behind it. I think it grew to about a thousand last year then a little more over the summer, but then it skyrocketed this year. So it’s doing exactly what I want. Cortland, and Oneonta, and Oswego they’re always fighting and having bragging rights.

 

What would you say the mission of the account is?

I would say it’s to expose the reality of social life, because going into college everyone, whether, it’s in the back of their mind or its their first question, is saying, “what’s the social life like?” Is there going to be parties? Because obviously when you go to tours they go, “we’re a dry campus, we do this.” Clearly from a business standpoint on their part it’s not appropriate to promote that stuff, but you know it’s something kids really want to know. Obviously, this is put to the extreme with all these pictures and contests I put up there, but it does give people a big grasp, and I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from incoming students who, like, actually base their decisions based off of how fun the school looks. Obviously, a majority of people are coming to college most of the time.

 

Students, campus leaders weigh entertainment vs. harm of SUNYPartyStories

When did you really start noticing the number of followers skyrocketing?

This year. Last year I kind of started it, but I kind of turned it into a entrepreneurial endeavor. I started selling T-shirts and advertisements and, you know, I kind of have to because once the account picked up, it takes a lot of my time especially on Sunday when I have to go through up to 500 entries. It takes a lot of my time. So I started really pushing, putting out good tweets so the account spread, and I would say between September, mid September to now, it’s grown 30 times to 30,000 from 1,000 at the beginning.

After Sunday’s contest, I gained 5,000 followers in 24 hours. What’s crazy about Twitter: I run a couple other Twitter accounts, and the more followers you gain, the more followers you gain, if that makes sense. The higher it is, the faster your rate becomes because the more people are spreading it around. So it’s basically a momentum wheel and it’s growing. It’s a fun ride.

 

You said over 500 submissions. Is that a new record this week? 

It grows every week. I think it was around 500 this week, and then it will be more next week. Yeah, I mean a month ago it was a fifth of the amount, but it grows enormously every week. So yeah it’s about 500 submissions now.

 

Is there a line that you draw on submissions when you post them and say I just can’t post this?

I told myself I would do that but I don’t. Basically me and my friends kind of drink and then we go through all the submissions and whatever ones make us laugh out loud or gasp we take down, and then we normally get a list of 40 to 50, and then we go through those and pick out the best ones. And there is some horrible stuff on there and I’m not doubting that, but it’s good for the account. I’m here for the business, you know, it’s not my personal thing. That’s what the people want. Are there things I have denied? Yeah. Believe it or not, there are things worse that have been submitted than I have posted on the account, things that just clearly weren’t consensual or really f****d up that I’ve not posted. Anything that is legal anywhere else, I’ll post.

 

Students thoughts on SUNYPartyStories

If someone who was in a picture contacted you and asked them to take it down because they didn’t give consent, would you take it down?

Oh yeah, 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. I’m not here to deteriorate anybody, I’m just the middle man, so it’s kind of silly when people get mad at me, but it’s just other people giving it to me and I post the best.

 

Are you worried about some of the consequences that could come from having the account?

I’d say that’s reason number one why I keep it anonymous. The income from the account is really good, which is why I keep going. I kind of compare myself to Joe Rogan from Fear Factor. He was the host of Fear Factor and all those years he was getting people to do all this f****d up s**t and then in an interview he was like, “Those people were the stupidest people of all time.” He was doing it because he was getting paid. It’s a job, it’s a business, you know, that’s why I’m doing it. I mean obviously nobody’s making me do it, I’m getting paid to do it, I do it, but it’s not that I support it, it’s not that I think this is the coolest thing ever, I’m just doing it to give the platform for everybody else because this is their best entertainment of every Sunday night, and it’s free. So it’s what the people want and I’m just delivering it. But no, there’s a reason I keep this anonymous, I don’t think it’s going to come back to me.

 

Do you feel that it hinders SUNY’s image at all? Do you feel it is a negative image upon them?

Does it? Yes, but am I slandering them, no. I’m simply exposing the reality of what is happening within their walls. If I was making things up, if I was anti-SUNY, that’s totally something that’s wrong, but when I’m simply exposing the content that would otherwise probably just be posted to everybody’s personal page, you know I’m creating a platform and obviously I’m not denying that it doesn’t get more attention but all press is good press. SUNY really can’t deny the fact that this happens so I don’t think this is negative towards them.

 

Would you post something that you would see on SUNYPartyStories on your own personal page?

No, but everyone has their own morals. My mom is on my Facebook all the time, that’s why I don’t do it. You know, social media has totally changed us as people. Ten years ago, people would never think about putting pictures of two strangers making out on the internet, but now social media has kind of almost not replaced social life, but it’s become 50 percent of our social life so when people gain attention, when people get all their retweets and stuff on Twitter, it gives them that same sensation as getting attention in person which is why people care so much about their personal image. That’s why people put up stuff like this because if they get the attention from it that feels good. That’s why they’re willing to put more messed up stuff that really ideally you probably shouldn’t be putting on the Internet, but it’s a very entertaining page and it’s what people want to see. That’s why people do it. Everyone there, whether they’re submitting or not, they’re there for the same reason. Everyone is there because of curiosity, including me because it’s cool to see what other people are doing. A lot of people take pride in how hard they party, and we’re just here to expose that.

 

Any other thoughts? 

We’re simply just exposing what happens. A lot of people are worried about their jobs and their images, but I don’t think you should revolve your life around a career that you wouldn’t desire and I’m not saying go out and be an idiot on social media.

I got some press and they were slamming it and saying it was all negative, and it’s really not. Are there negative effects, yeah, but there are negatives in having a Facebook to begin with. It’s really about the entertainment. We’re not purposely trying to deteriorate SUNY or the people on it. It’s good fun. Yeah, I post who submits it, but other than that it’s fairly anonymous. People are like, “If you post there then you’re not going to get a job,” but I think that’s stupid because it’s going to take a lot of work for an employer to go through every picture to find the one, to make the connection that it may be you. I just think people kind of overreact and don’t live in the moment enough, so I think that’s what the account is about: living in the moment.

Everything I have is user submitted. I receive it, but everything is submitted on their own consent and I almost try and promote those people and say something funny because obviously SUNY looks at this and goes, “It’s a horrible endeavor and makes us look bad.” But like I said before, people take pride in their partying. It’s a culture in college and a lot of people do it. If you don’t then don’t follow the account. It’s as simple as that, but people do follow the account who go party because it’s a cool account. People are curious. They want to see what people are doing. Whether they say it’s stupid or not, if you’re following the account, then you’re just as guilty as the people who are submitting.

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