UATV reporter Hayley Wright obtained this exclusive statement from the person behind the controversial “Anon” account on Twitter “@HPERprobsUARK”.
I first want to thank the UAPD for their excellent service provided to the students of the University of Arkansas. I want to stress that I am sorry for causing this annoying problem for them that they should not have to spend time on when there are surely more important crimes. A huge thanks to SGT Foster. He has been a policeman with the UofA for more than 20 years. He contacted me about two weeks ago concerning the Twitter account. During our meeting, he conducted himself with professionalism and an honest desire to help correct the issue. We talked for about an hour, most of which was not even about the account, just life and the U of A in general. He’s a true University of Arkansas fan. Thank a UAPD Policeman if you see them on campus, because they have to deal with a lot of issues that regular policemen never encounter. Being on a college campus with such a huge student population, they definitely have to be able to adapt. This statement is not meant in any way to “kick the hornet’s nest,” but to tell the violated individuals that anything that can be done to make up for my mistake will be done. Also, it is telling the public the truth, which I feel they deserve in this case.
The first point I want to address is the picture in the newspaper. They posted a picture of a woman doing a very difficult towel-floor exercise. The quote of the tweet is “LADIES: take note. This lady is cleaning up after us men’s mess while getting her workout in #epitomeofhousewife.” If anything, this tweet should be taken as a compliment. It is worded in a way to make fun of the 20th Century societal views that women are always cleaning up after us messy men. That’s funny and harmless. Also, the picture that was my profile picture is of my close friend, and former roommate, who approved of and posed for the picture. Therefore, the craze from the Arkansas Traveler over that specific picture stating “that it’s a violation of the man’s (my friend’s) privacy” is null and void. Another of the many false excerpts from the media is that “the account is impersonating the HPER.” The name of the account is @HPERprobsUARK, which implies that it is pointing out #hperprobs, not impersonating the HPER. One more incorrect statement from the Arkansas Traveler is that “the person responsible for hperprobs has still not been found.” This is not true, because the UAPD knew who I was two weeks ago and met with me last Thursday for an hour. It was very adult-like and civil, I assure you.
To those offended and the two men violated, I am truly sorry. It was obviously inappropriate and ignorant to take and post those images. I have been going to the HPER for years; and thoroughly enjoy, love and appreciate the amenity the U of A provides us students. The locker room is a place of expectant privacy, and that expectation of privacy should be respected. Hearing the words “possibility of being charged with a Class D Felony for the locker room privacy pictures” from SGT Foster’s mouth was very heavy-hitting. I hope all can be resolved in the best way possible and that I can make it up to the two men whose privacy was violated by the images. I do not want any HPER patrons to feel that they will be photographed in a private place. That will never happen again and is not a goal of the account. The first inappropriate image was taken in October of 2012 and the second within the first days of January 2013. They have both been deleted from Twitter and phone. They were taken and posted ignorantly to give viewers a shock factor, which was not necessary. The legal tweets I was posting were simply enough that I did not need to do anything over-the-top. Impatience and ignorance is the key theme from this event. I should have let the followers enjoy legal, appropriate tweets and images instead of lewd locker room images. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. I responded to a follower’s concerned tweet at me, saying something to the likes of “locker room pictures will not be posted anymore because it isn’t a goal to make people uncomfortable.” That response tweet was posted in early January before I even knew the UAPD was investigating or that it was a problem. Of course, hindsight being 20/20, I should have deleted the images at the time I said to the follower that it was not the agenda. Looking back, one can always make better choices in any instance of life.
Now to set straight the goals of the account and some issues I feel are important. The choice of wording from The Arkansas Traveler, and media in general, of the goals/objectives of @HPERprobsUARK account was not correct. They stated “it is dedicated to taking pictures of people without them knowing.” That is not the case, because I have over 1,500 Tweets with no more than 20 or so being images of patrons exercising in the HPER weight room. In the majority of these images, the people are friends of mine who actually know I am taking and posting the picture. In no way does this explanation of the legal images detract from the fact that the locker room pictures taken and posted were an invasion of one’s privacy, as well as, inappropriate. Simply, I am explaining that the account is 99.5% legal. Two slip-ups of posting images from the locker room are my fault and, as I learned, not legal. The Arkansas Traveler has posted consecutive articles over the last two days that have contained many assumptions and propaganda (misinformation). This has negatively affected their reputation in my book. Summed up; they have conducted incomplete, assuming, unprofessional and arrogant journalistic research and articles. It goes to show us that one cannot believe everything he or she views in the news. The Journalist’s Creed states “I believe in the profession of journalism. I believe that the public journal is a trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service that the public service is betrayal of this trust.” Take it for what it is.
The goal of the account is to make tweets about the humorous situations that patrons of the HPER undoubtedly experience on a daily basis. These tweets are geared towards poking fun at the humor in reality. Real Life Events. Another realized goal of the account is to provide a forum for students to vent their #hperprobs to other HPER patrons who may or may not experience the same issues. The account provides a place where followers can connect with and empathize with similar individuals. I have had students, HPER employees, and even U of A faculty members tweet me with thanks and encouragement for giving them a place to vent their funny HPER thoughts. The outpour of student support after this story made the paper has been overwhelming and humbling. It definitely reveals that my preexisting thoughts of the U of A, and Arkansas in general, having the best fans and students is 110% true. The ultimate thanks, praise and appreciate to the U of A as a whole; especially the students. Without us, Fayetteville would not be the amazingly attractive college environment that draws people here. I would like to stress the great importance of being knowledgeable of the voyeurism laws in Arkansas, and the Law in general.
Video voyeurism is obviously a very serious crime. With such an influx of technology, especially over the last 10 years, people are still behind on the laws and regulations governing the domain of technology. As Katherine Shurlds –a legal expert in journalism and U of A instructor –stated, “publishing the pictures isn’t required to commit a crime.” Simply having the photos in your possession is a crime. So the next time you think of photographing a random person because it may be funny; please think first about the nature of the picture, if it is appropriate, and (most importantly) if it could harm the individual in any way.
I respect all people working out, no matter what level of experience they are. It’s all about improving oneself and it shows a want to get better simply by being in the gym.
If searching for information on the Laws of Voyeurism in Arkansas, please look up “Voyeurism Offenses 5-16-101 Crime of Video Voyeurism in Arkansas.” Be a spokesperson for self-education of the Law. On a happy closing note, how about the University of Arkansas Athletics Program? Men’s Track & Field ranked #1, Football looking very promising under @BretBielema, Baseball ranked #1 preseason, Women’s Track & Field ranked #4, and the Mike Anderson coached Men’s Basketball team pummeling the #2 ranked Florida Gators in the wonderful Bud Walton Arena. What a great time to be a Razorback fan and student at the YOU of A. Go Hogs!”