In the middle of November two strapping young reporters, John Chatigny ’18 and Max Amar-Olkus ’19, walked into Fanning to discuss some of the toughest issues of our time with President Katherine Bergeron. Over the course of nearly half an hour, we discussed many things, the most important and relevant being President Bergeron’s own Instagram account. Below is a transcript of our interview with the President. Hopefully, as she expands her social media presence we will be able to interview her again.
TCV: What moves you to post on instagram?
KB: It’s usually very responsive to the environment- I’ll see something that I think is very beautiful. I actually take a lot of pictures with my phone in the times that I’m outside– at the beach, or elsewhere– and sometimes I think there are pictures that might be instagramable. Sometimes they’re kinds of photos that I want to use to just remember something that is very beautiful. But, you know how not every kind of picture reads very well in that mode so sometimes I won’t post something because I won’t think that they’ll say anything to a larger audience, even though they say something to me. I took a bunch of pictures of the sand at Ocean Beach. So beautiful. Black sand, white sand– it looked like a painting. But I wasn’t sure if it was instagramable.
TCV: Do you take all of your own photos?
KB: Yeah. Absolutely. [Laughs]
TCV: Do you edit them at all? Are there any specific programs or filters that you use?
KB: My iPhone isn’t the most up-to-date, but I do edit them. There are certain kinds of tools in there that I use, but it’s usually subtle. I sometimes saturate them a little. I don’t really like the ready-made filters, they’re kind of obvious, and sometimes they wreck the thing that I thought was the most interesting. (Laughs)
TCV: I agree. I very, very, completely agree. We noticed that you’re only following four accounts and we were wondering why those four in particular. I believe it’s the school’s general account, and a few sports teams.
KB: Well actually, it’s- it’s more that I didn’t want to follow individual students because it seemed unfair. I think I did decide- maybe because I noted that on a certain day- that field hockey liked a photo of mine so I started following them because of that. It hasn’t been very systematic on my part (Laughs)
TCV: Shameless plug: N2O, the improv group, has an instagram account now.
KB: Oh, okay. Yeah? (Laughs)
TCV: No pressure to follow, we don’t tend to post too much controversial material.
KB: You know, what’s interesting is that you don’t get asked to follow the same way that you do on Facebook and if that were the case there might be more. [accounts being followed] But that’s alright, it’ll slowly evolve. I’m not being standoffish. (Laughs)
TCV: Do you have a personal account, aside from your presidential account?
TCV: We realized that you have probably one of the best follower-to-following ratios in all of history. It may be rivaled only by someone like, say, Kanye West. I think you have something like 800 followers compared to only four accounts that you’re following and we’re all very envious. How does it feel?
KB: (Laughs) I think what I would say is that it may come with the territory but I also think I’d say it feels as good as being a member of this community.
TCV: Do you think it’s important for presidents of colleges and universities to have social media presences?
KB: I do actually. I decided to use Instagram when I started because it was something that I did already, and I didn’t have an Instagram account but actually liked to take photos and this is a place that is extremely photographable. I do think that there may be opportunities to expand. I’m actually working on a Linkedin right now that could be a venue for other things because people don’t actually go to the presidential site that often. I think that for social media to be effective it has to be authentic.
TCV: We’re going to do some quick-fire questions now. Anybody in the world- in history- could follow you. Who would you want it to be?
KB: Well… that’s hard to answer. But one person I was thinking about that could be kind of cool would be Katherine Blunt.
TCV: The namesake of the house Katherine Blunt?
KB: Yes! The person who basically built this college.
TCV: Yeah, that’d be great. I know lots of people use the internet and social media platforms to escape all the tragic things happening in the world by looking at cute pictures of kittens or puppies. Is that something you do? If so, what kind of puppy is your favorite?
KB: (Laughs) No puppies.
KB: No kittens. I don’t go seeking animals on the internet.
TCV: It’s not for everyone, I guess. Do you have anything else you’d like to say to the readers of The College Voice?
KB: I think it’s really important for everyone to find a balance between the social media presence and the face-to-face presence. Especially in an environment like this which is designed for that kind of interaction. I think one of the things to keep in mind is that this particular place (Which I love to photograph because it’s so beautiful) provides all of these outlets for gaining perspectives on your world by just shutting off and reflecting and I think that’s a really important thing to think about as well. I think it’s something that’s worth being conscious of. •