Syracuse University is considering kissing the kiss cam goodbye, after some say the Jumbotron feature encourages sexual assault.
“The instances I witnessed at the game encourage and condone sexual assault and a sense of male entitlement, at best. And they are an actual instance of assault, at worst,” Stephen Port of Manlius, N.Y., wrote in a letter to the editor of the Syracuse newspaper The Post-Standard and Syracuse.com.
Mr. Port felt the need to write the letter after attending the Syracuse University-Wake Forest football game last week.
He was shocked when the cameraman scanned the crowd to find a young man and woman cheering in the student section. “Clearly not a couple, the male student pleaded his case for a kiss on the big screen while the female adamantly shook her head no. So what does this guy do? He grabs her head and shoves his tongue down her throat,” and to Port’s horror, “the crowd cheers.”
The kiss cam feature was pulled from Syracuse’s recent game against Central Michigan University, but it is not gone for good – yet.
Syracuse University athletic department and its Kiss Cam sponsor, POMCO, agreed to suspend the feature until further evaluation. “We are taking the time to assess the concerns expressed in the letter to the editor,” Sue Edson, a university athletics spokesperson said.
The discussion about the kiss cam comes at a time when colleges and universities are looking more closely at sexual assault – and defining consent – on campus. An extensive survey of 150,000 students at 27 universities suggests that nearly 25 percent of college women have endured nonconsensual sexual contact while in college. The federal government is also currently investigating university compliance with Title IX in response to sexual misconduct at more than 100 institutions across the country.
Syracuse senior Elaina Crockett, author of a gender and sexuality column for The Daily Orange student newspaper, suggests issuing a student poll on whether to nix the feature all together or come up with some kiss cam rules, such as quickly moving on if one person on the camera clearly says no.
“Just because I’m sitting somewhere doesn’t mean that I’m entitled to kiss this stranger. That’s a horrible assumption that we’ve created,” Ms. Crockett told the Associated Press. Because without any kiss cam guidelines, the popular pastime shows a disrespect for boundaries and affirmative consent during a time of high campus sexual violence, Crockett says.
The Daily Orange poll, as of Wednesday, with some 340 votes, showed that 57 percent agreed that "The "Kiss Cam" should continue to operate as is," while 26 percent voted "No, it should not be banned, but it should not feature the student section." and 17 percent voted for a complete ban.
“Honestly, I wasn’t out to kill the kiss cam,” Port told the Associated Press news Tuesday. “I’ve always kind of been a little put off by it anyway, but never witnessed an actual act of – oh my God, this woman is saying no and it didn’t matter.”
And Syracuse isn’t the only one under fire for its kiss cam. The New York Mets issued an apology last week and said they would stop showing two opposing fans of the same sex on the screen after fans complained it was offensive to gay people.
Some media outlets, such as Fox News’ Fox & Friends, were quick to question the criticism as a “good idea or political correctness run amuck?” The responses to Syracuse’s kiss cam allegations vary on Facebook, with ranging complaints of “Liberal hyper sensitivity” to support for the decision because “When a woman is held up by men to another mans face for a tongue kiss after saying ‘no’ it’s a problem.”