At St. Ambrose, students aren’t seeing priests to confess their sins. Instead, they’re going online to tell everyone anonymously.
The craze of the “Confessions” and “Secret Admirer” style pages floating around the web are rapidly becoming successful at campuses across the U.S. Recently, Ambrose got the “tell-all” fever, formulating around 1,000 “likes” in 24 hours on the first Facebook page, “St. Ambrose Confessions.” On the pages, anyone can anonymously post about anything through a secondary website or the trust of the administrator of the site.
Hundreds of posts on both Twitter and Facebook took over newsfeeds of SAU students, ranging from experiences with drugs and alcohol, complaining about Ambrose staff and faculty, and telling everyone what sex acts they wanted to do with a fellow student.
“I texted ________ saying I was pregnant with his baby and continued to freak the **** out of him! Hahahaha ________, you’ll never know the culprit,” one post read.
“Last year I arrived extremely intoxicated from downtown and had to pee extremely bad so I sprinted from the Boom Boom Bus to my apartment and tried to open my door but it was locked and I was keyless,” one post started. “In a state of drunken distress, I ****** in front of my door and proceeded to pass out on the opposite side of the hallway until my roommate returned 45 minutes later. Pictures were taken. If you know who I am I will show them to you.”
The first two Facebook pages, “St. Ambrose Secret Admirer” and “St. Ambrose Confessions,” were quickly shut down. The Twitter version of the confessions page was suspended and then shut down, but the secret admirer page is still up. A new Facebook page, “Slambrose Confessions,” was born soon after the first two disappeared.
Many blamed the university for the hardships, but they claim they weren’t responsible for the pages being suspended or shut down.
“We have not been able to shut any of these pages down,” Vice President of Enrollment Management John Cooper said. “To our knowledge, we don’t have thatability if we wanted to with Facebook to be able to do that.”
While university administrators were less than thrilled over the pages, they acted quickly and simply sent out an email warning students of possible consequences and asking them to be more considerate of others’ feelings. Students who felt bullied by the posts were asked to come forward.
“To my knowledge, no students have come forward to us who have been injured by this site,” Cooper said.
Students should know the consequences don’t stop at the university level.
“If a student was libeled by another student, that student could sue,” Chair of the Communication Department Ann Preston said. “That student could sue the person administering the site. If you monitor a site at all, then you become responsible for all of the content, so, if anything is being removed, that means everything possibly actionable needs to be removed.”
And while the posts are anonymous, students who are named or show any association with the page can be found guilty by association. This could hurt reputations on campus as well as later on when looking for jobs or internships. Plus, posting about a particular person or group anonymously is seen as cowardly by many and is seen as bullying.
“I think all volleyball players are ******bags and way too full of themselves,” one post read.
“_________ and _________ ***** each other in the middle of the night and lick each other’s fingers,” one said.
And there were dozens more of the same. It’s posts like this that have faculty, staff and some students worried.
“This is not about us being worried about the university’s image,” Cooper said. “Obviously we care about our image, as does any institution, but that’s secondary. Our primary concern is the community that we have here.”
“It’s a line between college fun and damage to a reputation that could get you in serious trouble,” Preston said.
While a Twitter page, “SAU Secret Admirer,” and a Facebook page “Slambrose Confessions,” are still up, measures are being taken to keep posts responsible and respectful in some cases. The owner of “Slambrose Confessions” reads every post before it’s put out publicly and screens out anything calling a particular person or group out. Plus, if a post offends someone, it will be taken down.
“The purpose of the Confessions page is not to start pointless Facebook fights and drama,” the page administrator, who chose to remain anonymous, said. “It’s not a place to call people out and be hurtful. If you have a problem with someone, approach them in person. I mean, c’mon, we’re all adults. We graduated from junior high a long time ago. I just want to focus on the positive!”
The person is surprised at how mean some students are being to each other and encourages posters to focus on funny and embarrassing SAU-related stories.
Not all posts have been bad. Some are using the sites as a way to anonymously compliment others.
“______ is the sweetest, most genuine-hearted person in the whole world and anyone who disagrees obviously has yet to meet her,” one post said.
While the pages aren’t going anywhere, many hope students will think before they post. In today’s society, a social media footprint is around forever for everyone to see.
As for what’s already happened, it’s a memory that those affected won’t soon forget.
“There have been two incidents since I have been here that I have walked away at the end of the day and felt bad about in regards to our students,” Cooper said. He’s been here for two years. “One happened last year, and this incident.”