The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
In recent months, Miami has seen the return of a phenomenon that many schools across the state and across the country are experiencing. The resurfacing of the Snapchat account Redhawk Snaps marks the resurgence of a user-generated content-based forum that projects a less than flattering image of our university on a daily basis.
Flipping through the Snap Story, one might see videos of students "pregaming" in houses off campus, snorting lines of cocaine and Adderall, shotgunning beers, making bongs out of water bottles and pictures of men about to have sex with women with the caption "Pre-Smash."
The function of Redhawk Snaps is simple. Users send in their pictures and videos to an account, "Redhawk-snaps1," similar to how one posts things on their own Snapchat Story. The mystery person and mastermind behind Redhawk Snaps then has the decision of whether or not he or she posts the sender's content onto the Redhawk Snaps main story.
While multiple Redhawk Snaps accounts have existed in the past, this year's account is developing itself as a Miami brand, boasting both an Instagram and Twitter account with even racier content.
There are a lot of students watching these stories, and while a small percentage of them are submitting content, they are inherently and unconsciously subscribing to this image of Miami. And we at The Student see several implicit issues with the simple existence of an account such as this.
Primarily, the ambiguity of not knowing who runs the account is something that concerns us and should concern you, too. This person wields all the power in this situation, having access to your username and knowing your online identity while we are oblivious to his or hers. This person also singlehandedly decides the image of Miami that gets crafted on the account (even if based on submissions). You are directly attached to any image of a video you send in, whereas the Redhawk Snaps director is completely free of consequence.
In addition, the vetting process for which submissions do and don't get posted is practically nonexistent. The only process that exists is snapping in your ID with everything but your birthday blurred out. Thus, this forum easily has the potential to be used by underage persons.
We aren't saying the idea of students sharing content via Snapchat is bad in itself - but with the way that it is run and the content that it is showing, it has the potential to put a black mark on Miami and its students as individuals. It's not just a casual, cavalier thing; it's significant.
Be kind to your fellow Redhawks when deciding what to send in and be cognizant of the image you create whenever you participate in a platform that carries Miami's name (or in this case, mascot). Additionally, though it is not illegal to take pictures of others (with exceptions, of course), be aware that it is not courteous to take pictures of your fellow Redhawks and send their image to a platform that has a less than flattering reputation. Social media gives us great power to connect, but that power can easily be misused when we don't stop to consider the consequences.