Undergraduate students who helped organize the 1vyG conference, for first-generation, low-income (FGLI) students, were upset to learn that a video story they posted to the University’s Instagram feed on Sunday, Feb. 17, was later deleted. The organizers contend that the removal of their content came in response to their reference to the University’s racist past in one of the video segments.
University spokesperson Ben Chang said that the content was deleted to highlight the FGLI Consortium conference, a separate event on campus that began on the night 1vyG ended.
In the sign-off video in question, organizers thanked the volunteers, students, and administrators who participated in the conference and called for continued action in fighting systems of ableism, sexism, racism, and more.
“In addition, we [want to] take a moment to acknowledge that this University stands on stolen land from the Lenape people, and also that the University was built by enslaved black Americans,” Anna Macknick ’21, one of the organizers, said in the video. That clip, along with the longer video content, was removed from the University’s Instagram story the same day it was posted. A few moments later, a photo and link to a conversation between President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 and president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, Dan Porterfield, were posted to the story.
The fifth annual 1vyG conference took place from Friday, Feb. 15, to Sunday, Feb. 17. Organizers said that they had worked with the Office of Communications to arrange a “takeover” of the University’s Instagram account and posted content from the weekend’s events, which included student discussion groups, workshops, and panels.
“Given that our conference was dedicated to uplifting historically marginalized communities such as that of FLI students, we found it necessary to respect and acknowledge those who had stood in this space before us,” the organizers said in a collective email statement.
“We were disappointed, but not surprised, that the University removed our posts from their story,” they wrote in an email statement to the ‘Prince.’ “This perpetuates the fact that the University only cares about our voices when we are helping them maintain a pristine public image.”
The 1vyG organizers said that the University told them their content was deleted in order to share the livestream from the FGLI Consortium, which took place from Feb. 17-19. FGLI Consortium is a national organization that provides leadership and resources to administrators who work with FGLI students.
They said they find the University’s reasoning “unjustifiable,” because it is possible to both post livestreams and keep stories on Instagram.
On Sunday night, the University wanted to place focus on the keynote conversation between President Eisgruber and Dan Porterfield, the president of the Aspen Institute.
“This is not uncommon, where we, with new content that we want to promote and the first content that an audience person would interact with on Instagram, that we take down the old story,” Chang said. He said the University had content on its Instagram story that it deleted to make room for the 1vyG takeover, and that it was not something out of the ordinary for account administrators to do.
Chang said that the University was “very proud and happy to be able to support 1vyG” and helped created a video preview of the conference that was posted on the University’s website and social media channels.
He added that the University has discussed and continues to grapple with its own past participation in and legacy of slavery.
“We welcome a discussion of the topics that they raised throughout the conference and throughout their Instagram posts,” he said. “We certainly acknowledge the University’s history with slavery and think we need to continue to discuss those issues.”
An 1vyG highlight reel remains on the University’s Instagram page, but it includes no content from Sunday.