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Parker: Bizarre ‘parody’ Instagram account promotes toxic campus culture

Sienna Parker, Op-Ed Contributor

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While on Facebook looking for a distraction and a quick laugh on the Northwestern Memes for Cultured Teens group, I happened upon a disturbing post. One of the group’s members posted a screenshot of an Instagram account called @boujiecompanionsofnu. She and those who commented on her post called attention to how the account was promoting images of exclusivity and privilege but were also perplexed by the account’s strange behaviors.

Within the past few months, @boujiecompanionsofnu, which is dedicated to featuring — according to its bio — the “the boujiest betches on NU’s campus,” has been posting supposedly self-submitted photos of Northwestern students. However, it remains unclear whether photos are posted with the consent of the individuals featured, and several people have remarked that their comments decrying the account have been quickly deleted. While I have felt inspired by other Instagram accounts that feature members of the NU community and have laughed along with accounts that feature submitted content, @boujiecompanionsofnu is neither uplifting nor funny. For instance, there is a photo of an NU student in a CTA car wearing a fur coat with the caption, “Showing the homeless who’s boss.” This post is one of many where students are dressed in designer clothes at golf courses, on vacation or at fine dining establishments. On several posts, those featured in the photo commented that they did submit their image or give permission for it to be posted. To say the least, what is happening here is bizarre and rather sinister.

This account is an example of privileged and unaware NU students perpetuating a toxic and unwelcoming environment, and it is yet another addition to a growing list of similar incidents and reports. Was it not this school year that the bar manager of Tommy Nevin’s Pub wrote a letter to the editor about students flagrantly stealing from his establishment? How about the 2016 “The African American/Black Student Experience” report in which over 50 percent of students surveyed said NU is not a safe place for black students? As a senior, I’ve almost become desensitized to the number of times — whether they are reported or anecdotal — some students have been blissfully and willfully insensitive on matters of diversity and inclusion. But here I am, like the countless number of frustrated students before me, asking that people once again take responsibility.

To whoever made this account (regardless of whether it is supposed to be a parody), to those who think it is funny or worthwhile, to those maintaining its existence: I implore you to ask yourselves, “Is this really valuable?” If you are able to answer yes — if you think that this account is bringing more benefit than harm — who am I to stop you? But considering that none of us live in a black hole where our actions have no consequences or impact, I seriously doubt that you can continue operating this account without any feelings of shame or embarrassment.

Part of me sincerely hopes the intent of this account was to call attention to the pervasive culture of self-righteous privilege at this school. I’m eagerly awaiting the punchline and corresponding action to this cultural critique, although this is a a tone-deaf way of making a point. However, more likely than not, this is just another case of willful insensitivity. As I’ve had to say many times before in response to the ignorant antics of privileged students on this campus, I’m disappointed but not surprised.

Sienna Parker is a SESP senior. She can be contacted at siennaparker2018@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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