A talk with the creator of Stanford Confessions
As of March 5, the Facebook page “Stanford Confessions” had 2,060 likes and nearly 1000 confessions. The page, which takes anonymous submissions from anyone with a SUNet ID, has become a forum for both deep personal disclosures and clever witticisms. No topic is unexplored, as opinions and views on a variety of taboo subjects such as sex, race, love, mental health, jealousy and economic status have all been discussed on numerous occasions on the page.
Still, one thing that remains unrevealed is the identity of the creator of Stanford Confessions, who for the past month has been managing posts from these previously unheard voices of Stanford. Intermission connected with the student that started it all to find out what he or she has to say about how the page has evolved.
Intermission (INT): Overall, how has your time here been?
Stanford Confessions (SC): I definitely struggled my freshmen year. It was a difficult transition. But things definitely got a lot better when I started my sophomore year. Since then, I’ve found a great support [to be] necessary.
INT: Have you ever felt like you couldn’t express yourself here?
SC: I think that the duck syndrome is definitely a reality. When everyone seems so happy on the surface, it’s hard to express your feelings or ask for help.
INT: Why did you create Stanford Confessions?
SC: I think that Stanford could have a much stronger community. There is culture of silence that greatly hinders our daily interactions. It was also a great way to address the duck syndrome and foster support from peers.
INT: How did you come up with the idea?
SC: I saw that confession pages were becoming popular at many different colleges. Although different colleges have their own unique experiences, Stanford’s duck syndrome culture called for a confessions page.
INT: How do you manage your submissions?
SC: I am not tech-savvy. At all. So initially I created a SurveyMonkey form. However, people [much more tech-savvy than me] were able to spam the form, so I ended up with tens of thousands of spam confessions. Someone messaged me and suggested that I make a Google doc, so I did. I also noticed that people who weren’t Stanford students were sending in confessions. I made it so you have to be signed into your Stanford email to send a confession, but that’s it. When you make a submission, I can only see your confession and the time/date it was submitted. I can’t see any email addresses, names or SUNet IDs.
INT: What kinds of posts were you hoping for?
SC: Ultimately, I just wanted honest posts. I wanted real confessions from Stanford students. Since the system is anonymous, I wanted people to feel that they could be honest without being embarrassed or judged.
INT: How do you feel about the “trolls,” or joke-posters? Do you enjoy their submissions or find them counterproductive to your cause?
SC: So, I try my best to make sure that people can be heard. The page is also called “Stanford Confessions,” and I don’t feel that it’s my role to judge what is worthy of being a real or good “Stanford Confession.” I want it to be an open forum of all kinds of confessions–confessions about loving Stanford or not liking Stanford–because it’s a page that represents the student body. I don’t feel that it’s my job to tailor it to a specific audience or manipulate it in any way. Stanford students shape the page, and I just post the confessions.
INT: How do you feel about the comments people post?
SC: Again, I just think of myself as someone who transfers posts from a Google doc to a public page. I can’t control what people write, and that’s something that comes with open forums.
INT: Have you ever posted your own confession?
SC: Stanford Confessions is an anonymous page, and I do not feel that anyone should be outed.
INT: What are the biggest challenges you have faced as the Stanford Confessions administrator?
SC: It’s difficult to balance the freedom of speech issue. Some confessions may be offensive or hurtful to other students, but then, if I don’t post the confession, the individual that submitted the confession may get upset that he or she was screened. It’s difficult to establish the fine line between freedom of speech and appropriateness.
INT: You have over 800 submissions already. Are the confessions pouring in just as fast as they did in the beginning?
SC: They’ve been coming in at a pretty consistent level, even now.
INT: It’s been about a month since you created the page. How did your expectations of how the page would grow match the realities of it?
SC: I would love for the page to continue. I would also love to see someone take it a step further and maybe create a group or put on an event.
INT: How much longer do you see this page going for?
SC: I think the issues will be relevant for a while. But ultimately, it will continue as long as Stanford students keep it alive.
INT: Lastly, what’s up with the cover photo of Aria? Are you a big Pretty Little Liars fan?
SC: Haha, yes!
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