After a long week, some Mount Allison students choose to decompress by going out, often to on-campus events sponsored by the Mount Allison Students’ Union (MASU). Every year the MASU uses students’ money to hire a student photographer to capture these events. The pictures are then posted to the MASU’s Facebook page. Unfortunately, the photos posted are not always appropriate and can greatly embarrass their subjects.
Photos posted by the MASU over the years have depicted students getting physically intimate on the dance floor, making out with someone they would probably rather forget about, and more. There have even been photos that have been posted, without consent, that have outed students to their families. This is not a new phenomenon. Students should be able to go to a MASU event without any fear or anxiety that they might be captured in a vulnerable moment.
When you are sitting around a table with your friends and one of them says “the MASU photos are up,” what do you feel? Anxious dread? Excitement? A bit of both? Intentional or not, the way the MASU has posted photos in the past promotes a disturbing kind of campus-wide voyeurism instead of celebrating a fun night at an event they hosted. Campus events should be a fun place where students can relax, not a place where they must be hyper-aware of where the lens of the MASU photographer is pointing.
It is important to note that not every picture taken at an event is posted online, but that certain pictures are selected and then posted. For instance, it is uncommon to find a bad photo of the MASU executive members or of the friends of the photographers – the whole photo-posting practice is tinged with bias.
We must ask ourselves whether we pay over $230 in union fees to have the MASU post often-embarrassing pictures online, or rather to allow the them to defend our rights as students. I call on council to take action and make a decision – will the MASU post inappropriate photos, or pursue advocacy?