Camera crews from “I’m Shmacked” left town empty-handed Saturday after being met with resistance from Kansas University and the Lawrence community.
The online video company, known for its depictions of rowdy college party scenes at schools across the country, arrived in Lawrence Wednesday hoping to capture the “culture” of KU. University officials, however, urged students to keep a low profile during the group’s visit, while several local businesses banned “Shmacked” cameras.
Jayhawk Cafe, 1340 Ohio St., was one of them. Manager Alex McElvain said the bar did not allow the “Shmacked” crew to enter earlier this week.
“Shmacked” co-founder Jeffrie “Yofray” Ray said misconceptions surrounding the group may have caused the lukewarm reception from Jayhawk Cafe and other Lawrence establishments.
“I think that the local Kansas business owners looked us up and, uneducated on what we do, were instantly turned off and against it,” he wrote in an email. “People were under the impression that this was a huge MTV-style operation with big cameras and we are out to get everyone at their worst and that is just not the case.”
Ray, 20, said his group’s videos are an “honest view” of college life and that he never encourages students to behave outrageously.
Instead, he said “Shmacked” provides a valuable service to prospective college students in the process of deciding where to attend. The company has “showcased” more than 40 schools from across the country.
“We have been to countless schools and not had one problem,” Ray said. “Usually we work with the businesses and everyone wins.”
Still, university officials didn’t take any chances with the “Shmacked” crews in town this week.
“Unfortunately, an outside group is making money by exploiting the bad decisions of a small minority of the university population,” university spokeswoman Jill Jess said in a statement. “Glorification of dangerous drinking and irresponsible partying paints an unrealistic picture of what college life means to the majority of our student body.”
Many student leaders, including the presidents of KU’s Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association, also advised peers to avoid the “Shmacked” spotlight.