By Contributing Writer Abigail Field
It may come as a surprise to anyone who follows the UMass Dartmouth satellite accounts of Barstool Sports on Twitter and Instagram, but it appears that they have somewhat changed their stances on the importance of academics and public disturbances. The accounts are well known for their typically humorous posts about unbridled drinking and carousing, memes aimed at the administration, the occasional scantily clad female student, videos secretly documenting the sounds of two people engaged in intercourse, and general tomfoolery. However, it was just announced today that they will now be prioritizing the academics of students and the peacefulness of the campus community.
In a recent tweet from @stoolUMD, which read “PSA: To the clowns who are “walking out” of class, you don’t get degrees by skipping class and causing a public disturbance”, ” the media outlet made quite the change from their apparent previous disinterest in graduating and keeping the campus tranquil. Interestingly however, the admin of the accounts was nonetheless in attendance at the Climate Walk Out hosted by the Sunrise Movement, as evidenced by a video on their Instagram, @umdbarstool. On this post, they compared the protesters in attendance to the people Naruto running into Area 51 to “see them aliens”.
Relatively unclear, however, is how moving speeches about the importance of the environment, rousing poetry about the people affected by pollution, and bewitching musical performances are more detrimental to graduation rates and a quiet campus than the content which the Instagram and Twitter in question posts. These of course include setting off fireworks on campus, tallies of how often students are getting drunk (spoiler alert: it’s a lot), and the occasional physical altercation. There seems to be a bit of a contradiction, however I am confident that the very active account administrator will soon make his or her position a tad clearer.
This is not the first time that Barstool Sports seems to be a bit confused insofar as their social media accounts. The audacity of people posting openly about doing something illegal never ceases to amaze me, and indeed, the President of the media company did just that. On August 12th of this year, Dave Portney tweeted on his @stoolpresidente account the following: “Hear @ringer employees want to unionize. Little refresher how I feel about unions.” after which he added a link to an article titled “Gawker Writers Vote to Unionize” that he wrote. It’s a short paragraph where he expresses a desire to “smash to smithereens” any future union that Barstool employees attempt to make. The rest of the paragraph generally consists of questions like “Oh you think you deserve health insurance?” and declaratives like “No more free water!”
Clearly at least part of the article was meant in jest, as he asked “You don’t think you should have to work with squirrels in the office?” among other things which one can only hope were said in satire. However, in response to the Tweet, Rafi Letzter, a former reporter for Business Insider, offered to give advice to those who work for Barstool about how to unionize and the laws that protect workers. Naught but a few hours later, Portney fired back with the promise “If you work for @barstoolsports and DM this man I will fire you on the spot.” Unfortunately for Portney, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) means he would be in violation of federal law, as both Section 8(a)(1)&(3) prohibit the firing of workers for unionizing.
Regardless, whatever political or social stances that the company and its affiliates, like our own campus’s rendition of Barstool, may take, the company has relatively little big-picture influence. In many ways, they are just a blip on the map, someone standing in the shadows at the back of a protest to protect our and our children’s futures, taking videos to post passive aggressively online. They are just a small man trying and failing to break federal laws that protect the rights of workers. Nonetheless, the UMDbarstool accounts exist, for the most part, for our own consumption. The administrator on it posts for the approval and enjoyment of the students on campus, many of whom were in attendance at the protest today. So continue to enjoy and laugh at its content, and perhaps save a laugh or two to direct at its creators.