Black Creator Paid His Tuition Using TikTok — Now His University Has Banned the App on Campus

Black TikTok creator Leon Ondieki made headlines last year after revealing that the social media platform TikTok helped pay for his entire tuition at the University of Georgia—and buy a car.  

Ondieki achieved these goals through TikTok’s Creator Fund, a program that pays content creators based on the number of “authentic views” they receive on their videos, according to 11 Alive.

Since joining the platform, Ondieki’s vox pop interviews on various college campuses have gained the student 2.1 million followers and over 126 million likes on his account. 

Despite the success Ondieki has obtained on the platform, he and many others who use TikTok to make money may face the possible effects of its recent ban on college campuses.

According to USA Today, numerous colleges are stopping students from using TikTok on campus by blocking it on school devices and WiFi networks. The publication reported that although students cannot use TikTok on specific college campuses, they can operate the app on their device using their internet service.  

For context, the reason why TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, is being banned or restricted overall is that officials are worried that sensitive data from the platform is being shared with the Chinese government.


Who did you recognize #trivia #college #interview #prize

♬ original sound – Leon Ondieki

During an interview with USA Today on January 19, Ondieki shared that he is adjusting to the ban by posting his content on YouTube Shorts and Snapchat Spotlight. Ondieki explained that although he could pivot, he understands how this can be frustrating for others who have made money “for their schools” by using TikTok.

“For any content creator who’s in school, I can see how this would be frustrating, especially considering that some content creators have made a lot of money for their schools,” he said.

In addition to using other platforms, Ondieki revealed he’s taking a break from his studies to go on tour with Starlink, a satellite internet service. On tour, Ondieki will use a sprinter van and a hotspot device, so he doesn’t have to depend on the college campus’s WiFi.  

The schools currently banning TikTok include The University System of Georgia, Oklahoma State University, The University of Oklahoma, Texas A&M University, and The University of Texas. Immediately following the ban, many people have spoken out against it, including TikTok’s spokesperson, Jamal Brown.

While mentioning how disappointed the company is regarding the bans, Brown said in a statement to USA Today, “We’re disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity in their states and are based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok.”

“We’re especially sorry to see the unintended consequences of these rushed policies beginning to impact universities’ ability to share information, recruit students, and build communities around athletic teams, student groups, campus publications, and more,” he added.