Confession 286 was “I hated my roomie sophomore year so I made sure to hook up with his sister every time she visited.”
This confession was the last one posted before the nervous mastermind behind the short-lived and controversial St. Ambrose Confessions Facebook page decided to shut it down.
On Monday, March 25, a St. Ambrose junior had been sitting in her room working on a tedious take home exam when she decided it was time for a study break. She was bored of scrolling for hours through Pinterest and wasn’t interested in watching another episode of Modern Family on Netflix.
“I have seen these confession pages showing up all over Facebook,” she said. “They are hilarious and I was shocked Ambrose didn’t have one yet so I decided to give it a shot.”
The student, who is active with several organizations and is recognized as a friendly face across campus, had no idea what was coming her way. Half an hour after sharing the page on the St. Ambrose Memes Facebook page, more than 500 students had liked it and anonymous confessions came rolling in.
There were confessions regarding questionable sexual experiences, some bashing different student groups on campus, and others releasing disgusting information about urinating in and on different objects around campus.
“Believe it or not, I didn’t post at least 20 of them,” the creator said. “They were crossing the line. I figured though, we are all adults, and we could all handle what was being posted. I just wanted it to be entertaining and fun.”
She thought it was, until she got to her first class on Tuesday. The first thing out of her professor’s mouth was stressing how appalling the page was and how it was promoting bullying. The professor talked about the ways students, faculty, and staff were offended. He ended his rant explaining lines were crossed on personal, university, and legal levels.
“I started freaking out,” she said. “I had to delete this page. Through class, I felt so sick to my stomach and my hands were breaking out in a sweat. But no one had any idea it was me, so I had to play it cool.”
As class got over, she power-walked back to her room. Just 15 hours after creating the page, 1,300 people liked it. The inbox was full of nearly 400 confessions.
“I had to do it,” she said. “I was kind of bummed because people were enjoying it. But, I know people were being hurt. And that was not cool and I felt absolutely terrible.”
With trembling hands and the quick click of a mouse, the page was gone. The next morning, in all three of her classes, professors led discussions about the page. One professor said the upper administration and cabinet were having a meeting to discuss how to go forward.
“Now I was really freaking out,” she said. “I almost had to leave class. But there was nothing I could do. I was so close to going to Dean Phillips to or Dr. Paul Koch to turn myself in. I was torn.”
She chose not to and has so far been lucky. An RA she sought for help and her mother are the only ones who know her identity. Tim Phillips, Dean of Students, is not sure what he would have done if she had turned herself in.
“I always try to look at these things with an educational approach,” Phillips said. “In this case, what were the creator’s goals and what went wrong in reaching those goals? I would have had to explain the ways the university’s codes may have been violated and help create a plan as to where to go from here based on the conduct review process.
But, from what I’m hearing, it sounds like she learned her lesson.”
Phillips is right.
“I’ve learned my lesson,” the creator said. “Next time, I will just stick to Pinterest.”