Will KU students behave as a video team trolls their town?

02/21/2014 2:46 PM

02/21/2014 2:46 PM

An online video company that films college life — including students getting drunk and rowdy — is in Lawrence this week, and University of Kansas officials are asking students to behave.

“Clearly, universities nationwide need to have conversations to remind students that college fun doesn’t need to involve stupid choices,” KU said in a statement. It noted that students’ actions “can reflect poorly upon themselves and their futures.”

Leaders of several student organizations said they had talked with their members about avoiding participation in videos by the company I’m Shmacked.

“Some of the behaviors caught in their videos don’t reflect what our organization stands for,” said Kevin Simpson, president of the Interfraternity Council at KU.

Last month, the company’s co-founder, a cameraman and another employee were arrested at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., on allegations of inciting a riot after a crowd of students smashed an SUV while the I’m Shmacked crew filmed.

After I’m Shmacked sold tickets for an event last fall in Newark, Del., for which it had no venue, thousands of students mobbed streets, and the club rugby team for the University of Delaware earned itself a five-year suspension.

A Rhode Island event ended with young people in the hospital.

I’m Shmacked co-founder Arya Toufanian said in a telephone interview Thursday that his company is out to show all aspects of college life — “academics, Greek life, as well as partying.”

“We are not there to cause trouble, we are there to capture the school’s essence,” said Toufanian, a 21-year-old graduate of George Washington University.

When I’m Shmacked lands in a college town, it often throws a party or concert and through social media students find where the crew is filming.

Toufanian said the company aims to make short videos to show potential students that “college doesn’t have to be boring, that it can be fun.”

“We do not promote or encourage underage drinking,” he said. “But without the partying aspect, kids won’t really watch this.”

Toufanian said his company does not work with the universities, and KU officials said they had not given the film crew permission to be on its campus.

“They are filming in Lawrence, not on campus,” university spokeswoman Jill Jess said.

Also, for $17 a pop, the company is selling I’m Shmacked shirts with the KU logo and the Jayhawk mascot.

University of Kansas officials said they are having lawyers look into the company’s use of the school’s logo and mascot without KU permission.

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