ASU students protest company I’m Schmacked ‘exploitation’ in documenting college parties

(Courtney Pedroza/DD)
The ASU protest against college-party documentation company I’m Shmacked began in student government offices after campus presidents brought up the idea at a meeting and took action. (Courtney Pedroza/DD)

After years of having a “party school” reputation, ASU students are protesting party documenters I’m Shmacked through social media for what students say are exploitative practices.

I’m Shmacked is a popular company that travels the country, throwing parties and concerts on large college campuses. The crew documents the parties, which often include illegal drugs, underage drinking and various sexual activities, and posts them on I’m Shmacked social-media accounts. The videos have received hundreds of thousands of views total on YouTube.

The company, which encourages colleges to compete against each other for the title of “biggest party school,” hosted an event last month at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix.

Frank Smith III, president of the Undergraduate Student Government Downtown, said he hopes I’m Shmacked never comes back to ASU.

“If we look at them, their business practices exploit our students,” Smith said. “The students, if they are on the video, are on it for life.”

Smith explained that the idea of protesting I’m Shmacked came up in a meeting among ASU campus presidents. The presidents took action after ASU administration’s approval.

“(Tempe USG President Cassidy Possehl) took the lead and got all the big organizations and their student leaders to sign a pledge … saying we don’t support this event,” Smith said. “It’s not the Sun Devil way.”

Possehl pushed for students to support the protest and to join in preventing I’m Shmacked from returning.

“It was about suggesting students not to attend,” she said. “(I’m Shmacked) benefits from student exploitation and that is not a platform that we want to be propagating. They devalue our degree by saying we’re just a party school.”

Possehl and the other presidents began attacking I’m Shmacked’s practices on social media and planned to hold a peaceful protest outside the actual event, but I’m Shmacked moved the event date up at the last minute.

“Since they did move the event date a lot of people returned their tickets,” Smith said. “Like 40 percent, so that was more students and community members not at the event, which was good for us.”

ASU approached I’m Shmacked about improper use of the ASU logos in their videos, and the clips have since been taken off the Internet. Possehl said the company blocked her from all of their social-media sites after that.

“I can’t say I didn’t expect that,” Possehl said. “But I can’t believe that an organization that uses social media as a platform to propagate their activities and events would shut down someone else’s dialogue.”

Although the protest never happened, USGD is continuing the social-media protest with the hashtag #I’mNotShmacked and memes that show students studying instead of partying.

USGD marketing director Tadan Tomko created many of the hashtags and memes that have been circulating online to promote the protest.

“These images show that you can go out and party but there are probably better things you should be doing,” Tomko said.

Tomko explained that although many college students will go to parties, the activities that occur should not be documented for someone else’s profit. He said students should remember that many times these images and videos can affect them later in life.

“If that’s what you want to do, that’s fine. But if you’re being exploited and being put online, then a future employer can see these videos and it can ruin your future,” Tomko said.

Smith said he agrees with Tomko and hopes students see that the future and their education are more important than large parties.

“ASU is not a party school,” Smith said. “We don’t want to be known as a party school, we want to be known for our success stories.”

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