A new account has has popped up on Twitter this month, bringing laughs and possible controversy to Okemos. Modeled after tweets made by President Donald Trump, @OkemosTrump tweets about issues, events and people at Okemos High School. While some may take issue or offense to the account, the intention is quite the opposite.
“It is a joke that I have with another friend about another Twitter account called MSU Trump, which comments about MSU things and sports. I thought it was kind of funny and I thought ‘hey, I should make one about Okemos,’” the anonymous owner of @OkemosTrump said.
He wished to remain anonymous “as a safety precaution in case admin actually thinks it’s too much criticism.”
The account mostly makes jokes about Okemos High School and has criticized administrators on multiple occasions. However, the owner of @OkemosTrump is not concerned about the possible negative consequences of the critical tweets.
“I have criticised an administrator or two,” the owner said. “I am not worried because it’s nothing political and it’s nothing hurtful or mean, or against school policy.”
While the owner of @OkemosTrump runs the account, he is not the only person behind the operation. The original idea to create an Okemos themed Twitter account modeled after Trump’s originated from another source. This person also chose to remain anonymous “for [the] sake of avoiding scrutiny from the rabid left, our administrators and just anyone who might misinterpret what we have to say.”
He described himself as “the true intellectual behind the page.”
“We took inspiration from [@MSUTrump], and I think we’re doing great things with the Okemos Trump page,” the intellectual behind the page said. He also found inspiration in his
“inner self, for wanting a better Okemos community. I’m willing to take drastic measures to achieve that goal.”
While both contributors of @OkemosTrump agreed about the origins of the account, there seemed different views about the future of the account.
“I don’t really want to achieve anything really,” the owner and operator of @OkemosTrump said. “Just some good laughs for the students.”
On the contrary, the intellectual had a different opinion about the greater meaning behind the account, expressing the point of @OkemosTrump as to “spread awareness, present an alternative view to the one that is shown at Okemos so often, and also to unify us under our President.”
Additionally, the self described intellectual had an interesting view about his @OkemosTrump partner, and their relationship, revealing a possible rift behind the scenes of one of the most up and coming Twitter accounts in Okemos.
“He’s kind of just my pawn. The goal that I’m trying to accomplish is done so at a higher intellectual level, so he’s really just my pawn. He doesn’t really understand what I’m trying to do here. He may think it’s just for comedy, but what I’m trying to achieve is just unity, progress and maybe a little bit of comedy.”
The owner and operator of @OkemosTrump, however, disputed their relationship all together.
“I am the one that produces the tweets, the ideas and content. It is a solo operation. The only thing my pawn gave me was the idea to start it, and that’s it. I have taken over from there. He doesn’t even have the password to the @OkemosTrump Twitter account. Only I do,” the owner of @OkemosTrump said. “He’s my partner in some things, but [in] this matter, I’d say we’re more acquaintances. He might throw me an idea here or there, but other than that, I come up with all the ideas. I think he’s the one with the lower IQ.”
The intellectual also created an Okemos Trump Instagram account that mostly reposts tweets from the @OkemosTrump Twitter.
He says the Instagram account was made “to expand our audience. We were just having so much success on Twitter that we needed to harness that into a new platform.”
While @OkemosTrump Twitter is experiencing success, not everyone involved is on board with the expansion.
“I think it’s silly. I think it was irresponsible. I don’t see the point. I think he’s taking it too far,” the owner of @OkemosTrump said. “I think it’s just a Twitter thing, supposed to be funny, small. He’s taken it a step too far, and it’s not really there yet. It’s not on that level.”
The self described intellectual defended the creation of an Instagram account.
“At the end of the day, this thing is about comedy, and we’re going to reach more people if we’re on multiple platforms,” he said. “ He needs to hop off and watch me take off.”
The competing Instagram and Twitter accounts may breed competition, but both Okemos Trump contributors refuted any competition.
“It’s competition for him, not for me,” the owner of @OkemosTrump said. “I’m already in the number one spot.”
“It’s not a competition. I’m an extension of our Twitter platform. That’s the way I see it at least,” the intellectual said. “Frankly, I don’t see it as a competition. I consider him as a good friend.”
He also added his previous comments about his fellow Okemos Trump cocontributer were “just playful hazing of the weaker half of @OkemosTrump.”
Okemos High School Principal Christine Sermak stated that social media accounts run by students can’t be regulated by the administration for the most part.
“Obviously you have freedom of speech. I’m not going to go out there and troll Twitter, but if it does become disruptive and kind of infiltrate within our building and disrupt the learning environment, or the positive culture that we have here, then obviously that might fall within our handbook,” Sermak said. “But other than that, it’s freedom of speech, and if it’s done outside of the school day, like people aren’t tweeting during school hours, then that’s their prerogative.”
Okemos High School government and politics teacher Kortney Whitmyer (social studies) says students are protected to criticize administrators online, up to a certain point.
“The First Amendment does protect students. Students do have First Amendment rights in schools,” Whitmyer said. “The school administration is allowed to limit free speech or expression of students, but only if they can prove that it creates a material disruption to learning. If they can show that this became, at some level or for some reason, disruptive, then they could censor it and maybe even punish the students.”
Whitmyer added that “it would be hard to prove that this is disrupting classroom environment.”
There could be consequences related to cyberbullying if @OkemosTrump criticizes any students.
“There are also cyberbullying laws in Michigan,” said Whitmyer. “If this account, even if used outside of school and privately by a student, if it targeted another student is a way that met the standards of the cyberbully law in Michigan, then that also could be dealt with.”
Both contributors reinforced that everything they say is a joke, and don’t wish to undermine the OHS administration.
Whether @OkemosTrump actually creates real change remains to be seen, but Principal Sermak believes there are better ways to try to achieve that goal.
“I would say that if people have concerns about administration, or things that are going on in the building, and they truly want to be about change and progress, then coming to talk to administration, or figuring out another means, versus using social media, doesn’t always bring about change,” Sermak said.
Regardless, the creators of @OkemosTrump are not concerned with change, and only do it for comedy.
“It’s nothing to be taken seriously at all,” the owner of @OkemosTrump said. “We are both big supporters of Okemos High School, and our admin. I think they do a great job.”
The intellectual echoed a similar sentiment.
“If administration requests, we are more than willing to communicate with them to keep our company going,” the intellectual said.