‘Living a second life’: Chapman students run Barstool account

Chapman Barstool is run by four anonymous cocreators, who post entertainment content that features Chapman students. The account has gained more than 3,000 followers in less than three months. Photo by Max Weirauch

The name of one of the cocreators of Chapman Barstool has been changed, as he asked to remain anonymous.

Fraternity parties, alcohol and memes – these are just some of what students can find when scrolling through Chapman’s Barstool Instagram account. Created in September 2018, the page is a parody made to replicate the official Barstool Sports page, which features comedic content for its 6.7 million Instagram followers.

Michael, one of the four founders of @chapmanbarstool, told The Panther that the account was created to provide a platform for students.

Michael said he and the other creators of the account were surprised Chapman didn’t have its own Barstool account. He said the Instagram page has grown tremendously in a matter of eight months, given that about 3,500 people follow it.

“Running the account feels like living a second life – like Hannah Montana. It’s an alter ego,” Michael said. “It’s an account that has a strong presence and influence on the lives of Chapman students.”

Some posts contain explicit imagery – for example, a male student urinating in a toilet while another male student is slumped over a toilet. When individuals directly message content to the account, the material is reviewed by the owners, who “try (their) best to check for consent.”

The owners of the account ask the submitter to check with the people featured in the content to provide privacy approval, and sometimes go to the individuals themselves for consent.

“We have posted, ‘Try to get permission from the people in the video or picture to allow us to post it,’” Michael said. “We take the submitter’s word as consent.”

Nico Dowdy, a senior public relations and advertising major, was one of the individuals who wasn’t made aware of his face being featured on the account on December 14.

In the public video, Dowdy was being fed a burger after Undie Run, a semesterly event at Chapman where students walk or run to the Orange Plaza and back to the main campus in their underwear.

“Barstool hadn’t asked me for consent, but I don’t know that that’s necessarily a stain on them,” Dowdy said. “I consider it to be my choice and responsibility … knowing that people are around and cameras are on.”

Michael said that if someone asks for a post to be removed, which has happened between five to 10 times, the account owners promptly do so.

“We are a service provider and we hope to provide the best service to our community,” Michael said. “We never post anything that disrespects the dignity of someone.”

As the account is still new, the creators are trying to build up a reputable image. Michael said they have received both positive and negative feedback.

“It is a catharsis for people. It allows students to experience significant moments through the lens of other students,” Michael said. “Some people just want to release their inner ‘Thotiana’ without feeling judged, so Barstool has provided them with a way to do so.”

The account owners work together by having discussions regarding possible content. The account has three criteria for a post: relatability, humor and appeal factor.

Even though Chapman Barstool is run by four owners, only about 12 others know of their identity.

“We’re just a group of dumb college students running a fun account,” Michael said. “We are planning on revealing our identity to a select group of friends after graduation, and we’ll probably pass down the account password to another student to run.”