West Virginia U. officials were on high alert Monday night during the University’s annual FallFest event, as the viral video company “I’m Shmacked” traveled back to Morgantown.
“I’m Shmacked” is a film company that aims to document weekend experiences at the “top party schools” across the country.
“We want to capture an unprecedented documentary on college life,” said “I’m Shmacked” cofounder Arya Toufanian. “This is happening on campuses all over, and we believe it needs to be documented.”
Recently named the “Top Party School” by both The Daily Beast and The Princeton Review, Toufanian, a junior at The George Washington U., said the “I’m Shmacked” crew enjoys the “party school” atmosphere WVU provides.
FallFest marked the company’s fourth trip to Morgantown.
“We love the atmosphere here and really appreciate WVU,” he said. “We really love it here.”
The company’s previous Saint Patrick’s Day film, which was released in March, sparked much controversy at WVU.
During St. Patrick’s Day weekend, 36 malicious fires were set and Morgantown police issued four controlled substance violations, four DUIs, four underage possessions, 41 open container and public consumption citations, 30 underage consumptions and four nuisance party citations.
University spokeswoman Becky Lofstead said the film company would not be welcome on campus – including Greek housing.
“They are certainly not welcome anywhere on campus, and any attempt to film is off limits,” she said.
Lofstead said she believes the “party school” reputation given to the University is misleading.
“Most people view WVU as a positive place and don’t appreciate this misleading image. You look at these ‘top party school’ lists, and it’s clear that many of the schools that are ranked as ‘party schools’ are also ranked high academically.”
In an official statement following the Princeton Review’s recent ranking, the University said, “In the big picture, clearly this list has no real credibility. As always, we focus on celebrating and supporting WVU’s long history of academic achievements. Our students, faculty, alumni, parents and friends have made it clear that is their focus, as well.”
WVU Student Government Association Board of Governors member Ryan Campione said he believes illegal behavior, such as what was portrayed in the St. Patrick’s Day film, is highly unacceptable for all students.
“Regardless of how you view the laws, or what you think they should be, they are set for a reason,” he said. “There’s just no excuse for being proud of being captured on film doing illegal things.”
While University officials cast some blame on “I’m Shmacked” for the St. Patrick’s Day criminal activity, Toufanian said he disagrees.
“We don’t really introduce partying to these schools we film,” he said. “This is a common occurrence on any weekend. It’s just that a lot of schools brush it under the rug. But, we believe if it’s happening, why not document it? Schools should be proud of this.”
Toufanian said “I’m Shmacked” does not, however, advocate for excessive drinking and partying.
“It’s not that we are proud of drinking. But, if that’s what it’s like, then we should be proud of how we live,” he said.
Following the Saint Patrick’s Day film, “I’m Shmacked” returned to Morgantown for a show at Bent Willey’s during the week of final exams.
The show was empty; however, after a trip to the Downtown Campus Library, Toufanian said he was thrilled to see more students studying than at the show.
“It was really cool to walk out from an empty show and see the library full with students studying,” he said.
Campione said while he does believe students partying safely and in moderation is acceptable, labeling WVU as a “party school” is not an accurate representation of WVU students.
“Being a student is a 24-hour job; it’s OK to blow off some steam every once and a while,” he said. “But labeling the entire University as a ‘party school’ is an unfair representation. We have a lot of hardworking students here. Not everyone is out partying all the time.”