The pandemic has seen many aspects of a normal college life fade into the shadows for a safer time. As more students make the move off campus to attend classes remotely, the campus experience isn’t the same as in previous semesters. An Instagram meme account based on campus life at SUNY Plattsburgh is changing that narrative.
A picture of SUNY Plattsburgh’s mascot is the face of the popular account, burghys_sextape.
The creator of burghys_sextape, who remains anonymous, started the account after returning home from campus last March. The following of the account was slow at first, but it has gained almost 2,000 followers.
“I had been home due to COVID for a few days and I got bored and decided to make an account for Plattsburgh,” Burghy said from an email account named You’ll Never Find Me. “Originally it was supposed to be a finsta account for our college and I never intended to get more than 50 followers, let alone close to 2,000.”
Students who found the account thought it was going to be a regular meme account. They didn’t anticipate gaining an attachment to what it had to offer students.
“I thought it was a bogus, meme a week about Plattsburgh account,” sophomore biomedical science major, Will Corley said. “As time went on, the memes started to get really funny. It’s really entertaining considering we are in a pandemic and there isn’t much that students can do as far as entertainment goes.”
The account quickly became one of the most talked-about aspects of student life. Burghys_sextape has allowed students to feel like they are a part of the SUNY Plattsburgh community, even if they are attending college remotely.
“I like how relatable it is, especially the memes,” Junior Political Science major, Lisette Linares said. “It is very interesting that we all have the same experience with the account. Since I’m off-campus, I still feel like I am connected to other students.”
With relatable memes and anonymous Q&A forums, students find a sense of community within the account. The anonymous aspect of the unfiltered forum posts keep students guessing who sent them in.
“I enjoy the fact that it is run by a student,” Freshman English major Chana Raphael said. “It can be really random so you never really know what you are going to see on those posts.”
Students aren’t the only ones who enjoy how relatable the posts on the account are. It can be seen as a negative look on SUNY Plattsburgh, but it is not the feeling the creator has.
“There have been some people who think I’m only negative or that I hate Plattsburgh,” Burghy said. “That’s not true, and if it was I would have transferred a long time ago. I love Plattsburgh, and I love being a student here. The memes are just to make people laugh.”
The account also hosts the highly anticipated weekly Friday TeaTime. Students use an anonymous forum feature to gossip and share secrets with anyone who follows the account.
“I kept doing tea stories every few days and I realized I had been doing it on Fridays,” Burghy said. “At some point, it just became a regular thing. Because of the pandemic, people aren’t as social as we used to be. The Friday tea stories are a way for people to see what’s happening in other friend groups without having to leave their rooms.”
Freshmen who haven’t had the normal college experience find themselves trying to understand college life before the restrictions.
“In what’s become of college, especially as a freshman we are just experiencing college now, so we don’t know college before the pandemic,” Raphael said. “Since the person running the account is not a freshman, they have experienced more of college. Sometimes it can be comedic relief, even just for a few moments.”
While most students enjoy the meme account, there has been a backlash from some students who do not adhere to the social gathering restrictions. The account is known for being against partying during the pandemic, and it is apparent in the posts.
“I ended up blocking three people because of it,” Burghy said. “My page is not a place for people to spread COVID propaganda and although I didn’t want to block any students, I had to.”
Students have also noticed that the burghys_sextape account has a zero-tolerance policy for other students who have continued to party since the large suspension in Aug. 2020. Many students side with Burghy on this issue.
“I feel like there was a lot of backlash on it because they made comments on how there shouldn’t be partying in a pandemic and that students shouldn’t be going out to frat houses,” Corley said. “Burghy, although the account is funny, also brings about these types of issues as well.”
After the recent suspension of the Chi Phi fraternity, the account posted a meme making fun of the students who attended a party at the fraternity. Students who felt ostracized from the post reported the account and it was taken down briefly from Instagram.
“I was so devastated,” Linares said. “It was gone one Friday for a whole day. I was so hurt, so I went looking for a backup account, but I never found it. The next day it just came back, so that was awesome.”
The notion that the account may be gone has been in students’ minds. The owner of the account has mentioned that they have resided in MacDonough and Mason Halls for the fall and spring semesters. It can be assumed that Burghy is an upperclassman. The future for the account after the current owner graduates is still up in the air.
“I’ve thought about a few different options but what I’m probably going to do is have some sort of competition,” Burghy said. “Whoever makes the best memes, I’ll give the account to as long as they promise to keep it anonymous as well.”