Editorial: BarstoolU

The student community was recently captivated by the story of Parinaz Hadi ’12, who made it to the Final Four of a March Madness-style popularity contest on a website called BarstoolU. The reason this story made it into The Bucknellian is because it captured the attention of so huge a portion of the student community. We’ve heard more students talking about this than just about any other recent story we could have conceivably covered—and while we are willing to meet our readers’ demands for the sake of maintaining a readership, students’ attitudes toward this story nevertheless upset us.

We have no problem with Hadi’s decision to participate in the contest, and we can understand why she was excited about it. Good for her that she did well; it’s got to be gratifying to know that that many people care about you or are interested in you or at least find you attractive. We don’t have the desire or the right to tell anyone what to do with their lives to make themselves happy.

However, we are baffled by the enormity of the student response. Hadi received 215,000 votes, and an administrator from the website commented that he had “never seen anything like” the interest demonstrated by students and that he had been bombarded with “Facebook messages and tweets and emails and hand-written snail mail letters from everyone on campus asking me vote tallies.” It seemed everyone on campus was talking about the contest during the time of the voting, and Facebook campaigns constantly reminded us to vote as often as possible. Furthermore, it wasn’t just male students who were involved in this, and interest spread far beyond the group of people who personally knew Hadi.

In light of constant talk on campus about campus climate issues, in light of the sororities’ recent declaration against misogyny, and in light of the on-going discussion about how we need to be better people and objectify each other less, it is disappointing to see so much of the student body take so much interest in what is essentially a “hottest college girl” contest.

We’re not entirely sure what sparked this interest. Surely some students wanted to support Hadi and others considered themselves to be helping the University’s reputation, taking pride in her success. People were also hugely excited by the huge number of kegs BarstoolU was supposedly going to bring to campus if Hadi won, disregarding the logistical problems of planning such a party at a school where kegs aren’t even allowed, and this motivation is more troubling. Is this what students really care about on campus—having big parties and proving that our girls are the hottest? Did students really have nothing better to talk about than this contest on a website that few had previously heard of? It seems that all of the people admirably striving for a better campus climate have a long way to go.

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