Cal Poly’s College Culture video documents parties, as well as the San Luis Obispo area, campus scenery and Cesar Chavez beach day.
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It’s one of few words spoken between scenes of chugging, stumbling and fist pumps displayed in Cal Poly’s College Culture video posted this January.
The creator of The College Culture, Ray Daily, began his mission two years ago to document and share “the other side of college” — the side away from the classroom, homework and studying that absorbs so much of college students’ attention.
Having documented that culture at seven colleges throughout the country so far, Daily has been at the forefront of a new media trend. The fad of posting college partying and carousing videos started strong; these videos get hundreds of thousands of views. College partying scenes in The College Culture are mirrored in media forms such as I’m Shmacked and Blacked Out Media.
Daily did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Mustang News.
When college-aged students across the country watch these videos — which are filled with keg stands, shots, handle pulls and beer bongs — their perception changes, according to many doctors and counselors.
Jenn Rhoads, coordinator and counselor at Friday Night Live, a San Luis Obispo County behavioral health program, believes these videos give students a distorted view of college life and partying.
“I think it really glorifies something that causes a lot of pain and negative consequences for many people,” Rhoads said. “The Cal Poly College Culture video does show police officers making the college students pour out their kegs of beer and stuff like that, but it doesn’t show people getting arrested. It doesn’t show people experiencing some kind of sexual assault, or alcohol poisoning, or even getting really sick or harming themselves in whatever way. So I think that it is very one-sided.”
Dr. Hannah Roberts of Cal Poly’s Counseling Services specializes in alcohol-related issues and agrees with Rhoads. These videos can create certain expectations for students’ drinking, she said.
“In the media, of course, we see a lot of those alcohol expectancies, as far as improved sexual performance, decreased social anxiety, more fun in general, just an increased pleasure,” Roberts said. “They are just common social expectations that tend to get reinforced by various media.”
A North Dakota State University study found the majority of college students who are problem drinkers expected numerous benefits from their alcohol consumption, such as those positive aspects of the video. Non-problem drinkers did not have false expectations from their alcohol use, according to the study.
But the College Culture videos document many aspects of college, not just the nightlife.
Its website states “we strive to show an unfiltered view of life outside of the classroom, and that means more than just partying. From student organizations and philanthropy events, to tailgates and undie runs, our aim is to show what it’s really like to go to your school.”
Cal Poly’s College Culture video highlights the sights of downtown San Luis Obispo and campus scenery, followed by clips from the Cesar Chavez beach day activities and nightlife events, including scenes from “The Jungle,” formally known as the Cedar Creek Village apartments.
“It gives a good inside look of what goes on,” said Keith Enterante, an English junior and former Cedar Creek resident. “It’s a very raw take on college — it’s not trying to sugarcoat anything. It depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re a partier and you watch that kind of thing get advertised, it’ll get you stoked, but if you’re not, the video also has something to offer to you.”
Tyler Correll, a business administration freshman and friend of Daily, said he felt these videos are good for the college community.
“I feel like (Daily) emphasizes everything that is super important,” Correll said, “and brings it into a short segment to show not only ‘Oh, this college has a very good nightlife and social realm,’ but also that it brings a bunch of other things too, whether it be environmental, whether it be destinations or whether it be just the whole entire feel of a school.”
The videos show students doing classic, college-specific activities — hiking and cheering on their school during sporting events — as well as participating in many daring and possibly illegal activities.
I’m Shmacked’s “Xtreme Trips Spring Break 2013: Puerto Vallarta” video shows a girl sitting in the back of a dark, packed car screaming, “Make me famous.”
Rhoads didn’t understand the mentality behind people in these films.
“I wondered if some of the people in these videos would be embarrassed if their parents saw that, or if their grandma saw that or their professor saw that,” she said. “I think that I would be if I were in that situation, but I think that we’ve lost that feeling of ‘I probably should be embarrassed’ and instead have flipped it into like, ‘Oh yeah, isn’t that so great?’”
These videos advertise excitement, pride and thrill — the events play out so it seems obvious students involved are having fun.
“When you are caught up in that culture and you have those expectancies and you think that those things are happening, there is a tendency to want to celebrate that and to want to paint a good picture of that,” Roberts said. “So I think that is some of what we are seeing.”
These popular videos are like any other media: Their goal is to set and keep a trend. Even if these videos distort the perception of college, the thriving world of social media has increased their popularity.
“People are going to make what they want to make and watch what they want to watch,” Enterante said. “Clearly people want to watch these videos, so the makers must be doing something right.”