Photo of the unfollow button for @barstoolflyers on Instagram. Courtesy of Zoë Hill, Opinions Editor.
The first week of orientation is quite a culture shock for new students at any university. You are thrown into a new environment with a week to adjust, with orientation leaders as your guide to give advice.
One piece of advice that I remember my orientation leader giving to our group of students was to follow Barstool Flyers on Instagram. Obviously, this was an off-the-record type of recommendation, but actually ended up being pretty significant, nonetheless.
The account has a huge following, with 23,000 followers despite there only being 8,000 undergraduate students. However, the content that Barstool Flyers distributes is highly toxic to the campus community.
With its high level of influence on UD students when it comes to the party scene on campus, their posts have an impact. This content, however, promotes not only binge-drinking, but more broadly a culture of racism, homophobia and misogyny.
While posts of drunk kids playing in the snow, mishaps in class, day-drinks in the neighborhood and basketball games are all in good fun, the account has gone too far at times. An example most recently: its use of the term “the ghetto” when referring to the student neighborhood.
Last month, Barstool Flyers posted a poll asking students if they were interested in a day-drink on Lowes Street. The account responded to the poll on their Instagram story by saying that everyone who voted “No” were “the same people who call it the ‘Student Neighborhood’ instead of the GHETTO,” according to a screenshot of the post that was eventually deleted.
This frustrated many students for several reasons, the main one being the account’s blatant ignorance of the repeated conversation about how the use of the term is offensive to students and members of the Dayton community who experience actual ghettoization in the United States. Students of color on campus have to work tirelessly to educate a student body that has the privilege to educate themselves on issues that affect people of color. So many white students choose to ignore this effort in order to fit in with other students that value their social status over morals.
Barstool Flyers normalizes this exact behavior, which is precisely their problem. They promote racist rhetoric in the name of comedy as a substitute for humor when their submissions are dry. This problem even extends beyond this account and runs through the Barstool brand as a whole.
Of course, it’s important to bring to light the fun side of college and the hijinks that take place, but when pranks and jokes become racist, degrade women or comprise homophobia, it leads to a culture on campus that not only damages the college experience, but harms everyone. When this behavior is accepted and even praised on college campuses, students bring this rhetoric into adulthood and think it’s okay to continue to use this language that harms minority populations. The language is not only about words; these biases lead to action, action that hurt people.
So do yourself a favor, unfollow Barstool accounts, hold your peers accountable and make your school a safer place.