After watching the “48 Hours Mystery” special about Christopher Porco’s story, many students were left wondering – some critically – about the University’s decision to allow correspondent Peter Van Sant and his crew to film shots on University property. Although some claim that the documentary gave UR unnecessary negative publicity, the decision of the Office of Communications to allow the recording to take place on campus was the correct one.
The University was going to be tied into the story no matter what; it was a huge part of the investigation. Porco left UR the evening of the murder, and returned to campus the following morning. If the University had not allowed camera crews on campus, they would have gotten pictures of it elsewhere; this way, representatives from the University could be there while they were filming to answer questions and to ensure accuracy.
Some aspects of the project could have been handled better. It would have been more convenient for Van Sant to have filmed in a place where students could continue going about their day, instead of blocking the heavy flow of traffic on the stairs and lobby of the library. Further, parts of the documentary were over-dramatized and presented an eerie image of campus. Some of the camera shots, taken at night with spooky music playing in the background, made the University appear creepy.
In spite of these problems, nothing negative was said about the University. The two Sigma Phi Epsilon brothers who spoke in the documentary looked presentable and shed a good light on university students.
In lieu of other scandals at Universities, such as the Duke lacrosse scandal, UR is lucky to have remained a safe distance from the Porco scandal. This documentary did not change that trend. The way the media portrayed this tragedy, the University’s name was not damaged.