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THE INTERVIEW

The Richmond Confessions Facebook page is one that every Richmond student can spot on their news feed. Many of us love Richmond Confessions—for the posts that are funny, gossipy, or simply absurd. Crushes day and other confessions of love or like are enjoyed by many as well. However, many of us hate (or love to hate) Richmond Confessions for the posts that offend us politically, demean others, or contain tragic, disturbing words. Itself a source of controversy, Richmond Confessions posts seem to cover the full spectrum of Richmond student’s emotions, experiences, and opinions. Debates over both Richmond-specific problems and broader social issues often rage on Richmond Confessions under a veil of anonymity. Reading these posts regularly evokes some cognitive dissonance: it is entertaining and informative, but at the same time depressing, confusing, and upsetting. Is it worth it for us as Richmond students to listen in on the voice of the student body at the price of the upsetting posts? The Forum reached out to an administrator of the Richmond Confessions, who spoke on behalf of the operating team in order to shed light on this question and others.

Are you more encouraged or dis- What would you say is its true purcouraged by the submissions you pose? To entertain? To give students a get? place to vent? There are a lot of differI would be lying if I said it was not discour- ing opinions on this. aging sometimes, but on the whole students use Confessions to share something positive, or vent about something negative. What encourages me to keep going is that the negative posts generate so much support for the person in need that it is well worth it.

How many people know that you’re an admin?

10-15, mostly close friends. My only real concern is that people don’t see the site the same way my team and I do: as an authentic place to share the joys and frustrations of being a student here.

What is Richmond Confessions for? 10

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I’d say that most people use it for entertainment, but it’s also the most educational tool we have on campus for understanding the student body. We run Confessions because we thought it was important to make sure people had some sense of how we all feel about things. It isn’t always pretty, because the best of us are sinners, but when it comes down to knowing the truth or hiding behind a smile and a pretty lake, I’d rather know than not.

people and poll the students about serious issues. We did a poll earlier this year and found the rape rate slightly higher than the average for college students, and we learned that it was an issue that affects both women and men. Giving UR a view of what is happening in the social and cultural scene is our top priority, and that manifests itself in different ways. I think the focus of rape is important and something that cannot be discussed enough. Other than that, our priorities are shaped by our readers. If we start to see a trend, we’ll try and dig deeper.

There’s somewhat of a controversy over the Trigger Warning that prefaces a lot of crude or troubling posts. Do you include this warning or do those who submit? Why is it there? Should it be?

It was a carryover from old admin that we decided to keep. For some people, these memories are extremely vivid and painful, and the trigger warning gives them a chance to stop before they read an experience that might remind them of their own.

Who gets the most shoutouts on crushes day? Is there an official a record holder?

Well, if you would like to go back and check with the hundreds of crushes, be my guest, but I don’t know of any. Maybe next time we’ll keep track, though I could see that resulting in a lot of fake posts.

As an admin I imagine you have to remain very unbiased and levelheaded. Do you ever want to voice your opinion in the name of admin or would that tarnish the admin name to the Confessions can be a great place to educate Richmond Confessions purists out

As someone who’s obviously in touch with the student voice, what are the issues on campus that are most pressing to you? What are your priorities?


there?

If someone makes a suggestion or comment, we try to respond with our thoughts, though we rarely post on our own. The exception being that we did accidently start the Great Gatsby qouteathon that happened during finals week…

Is Richmond Confessions good for the school or bad? Is it better that we didn’t know some of the troubling or angering things we see on the page? I guess the broader question is, “is freedom of information always good?... What’s better, sad truths or happy lies?”

By in large, I think this is an imaginary line we draw. We took different paths, chose different groups and OF COURSE our group is the best because we want to think we made the right choice. Well, chances are you did make the right one. For you. Just like everybody else. I think the animosity is a combination of that, along with a little “what if I had done that” jealousy for the other side of the grass, which of course is greener.

personalities and choices. I thought about greek life, I went to church for a while, I hooked up a bunch one semester, had a long term relationship for a couple years, and I’ve had little groups of friends here and there that have changed and expanded over time. I’m still trying to be things tomorrow that I’m not today. Bottom line, I’m still me even when I’m doing all these things, and that’s what we all are doing. We think we know something until we don’t. We try something out until we stop. We treat each other badly sometimes when we know we shouldn’t. We fall head over heels in love sometimes when we know we shouldn’t. It’s not representative of our generation or our school, its representative of where we are in life. If confessions reveals anything, its that we are all kind of children.

Controversies or Issues prevalent on Confessions include Partiers vs. NonPartiers, Greek vs. Non-Greek, Sexual Freedom vs. Sexual Conservatism, Hate UR vs. Love UR, Depression, and I guess this is a matter of opinion. We think it Rape Culture. Any others that stick is good, otherwise we wouldn’t keep it up. To out to you? Are these issues represenus, it’s pretty simple. What you don’t know can tative of our school? Or maybe our hurt you. If we don’t air our problems, if we don’t generation? Today’s social issues? Do you have a favorite confession of communicate with each other, we cannot solve I think our school has a lot of racial, religious, all time? them, and we will never change for the better.

There seems to be a sort of silent war between partiers and non-partiers at UR that only wages on Richmond Confessions. Or maybe Greek Life vs. non-Greek life. Why is this? If this is reflective of the student body, where does this mutual distain come from?

cultural, political, and personal differences. The fact is though, over my time here, I’ve been a lot of different people. I’ve tried on a lot of different

{

I mean, I can’t help but love when we get crushes for the admin team on crushes day… - NATE COHEN

“...most people use it for entertainment, but it’s also the most educational tool we have on campus for understanding the student body.”

More than just gossip? You can’t pick up the most widely read student publication an campus as you walk through the commons. It won’t be there; you can’t find it among the stacks of newspapers and magazines. But chances are you read it everyday. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve written it.

Richmond Confessions has a following twothirds the size of our student body. This online following is triple that of any other campus publication. And students aren’t the only ones reading. Professors, interested outsiders, and prospective students all have access to the page. Say what you want about Confessions, but the fact is undeniable: it has power. If you had said this to me a year ago, I would

have hid my annoyance with a laugh. I wasn’t a follower freshman year, but the few posts I had read were either dramatizations of hookup stories written by people attempting to vindicate their sexcapades, or disheartening “I-wish-I-couldrun-away” tales told by people who seemed to resent everything about this place, especially the people. I perceived Richmond Confessions to be nothing more than whiny, gross, and depressing.

And all of this is somewhat true. Richmond Confessions can be downright discouraging, and often infuriating. But that’s only part of the story. Since the day four months ago when I was finally convinced to click the Like-button, I have realized that Confessions isn’t what I thought it was. It’s much, much more. And I’m not just saying that because I got a crush post that complimented my dance moves. MARCH 2014

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There is obscenity, and whininess, and plenty of anonymous finger-pointing, but in between all of these things lies something far more interesting: honesty. On a campus so image-conscious, we can learn a lot about our hidden selves with the help of this nameless, faceless forum.

WE ARE AFRAID OF THE SAME THINGS On Crush Day in November, the page received more than 250 anonymous post requests. Some are jokes, some are compliments from friends, but overall, submitting a crush about someone you’re afraid to talk to in person isn’t all that different from romantically frustrated sixth graders passing notes: “circle yes if you like me and no if you don’t.” We distance ourselves because we are afraid of rejection. This fear isn’t limited to Crush Day. One confessoins asks: “Is there any fraternity out there accepting of LGBT community?” We’re all different, but we’re all human. Everyone wants to belong. Some confessions ask for honest opinions on relationship troubles; a few even ask for someone to talk to. People are always searching for acceptance.

WE’VE ALL BEEN AFFECTED Whether it’s happened to you, someone you care about, or just someone you know, mental illness and sexual assault have affected everyone on campus to some degree. Month after month, these are the two hot-button topics on the page, but how much do we actually talk about these issues in person? If it weren’t for Confessions, would strangers still be reaching out to each other for help? These issues aren’t easy to talk about, but over and over again, it becomes clear

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that people are desperately in need of a place to voice their concerns and tell their story. Does Confessions do enough to help people who are struggling? Whether or not you think so, it seems to be a place where people are becoming more comfortable both reaching out for help and reaching back with support.

WE CARE For a student body with a pretty bad rap for being the brats of Richmond, Richmond Confessions seems to indicate that on the whole, we are a pretty grateful bunch. There is nothing like a shoutout to the Dhall staff to bring this campus together. In fact, confessions that compliment facilities, whether it be Dhall workers, cleaning services, or bus drivers, are by far the most popular posts.

WE’RE WEIRDER THAN WE LOOK It’s not easy being weird as a student at UR. Whether you’re willing to admit it or not, you care at least a little bit about what people think of you. For the most part, we come off as a bit homogeneous on the outside. But how normal are we, really? Again and again, people complain about how hard it is to break out of the “Richmond bubble,” to act differently, and to think differently. However, it seems as if people are brekaing the mold--not just in public. One post explained, “I dream of a handsome bearded hipster with flannel, tight pants and questionable hygiene to come and rescue me from the bubble one night, and that he’ll let me ride his bike pegs all the way to sticky rice where he’ll hand-feed me tots and PBR until we return to his lair in the Fan...and listen to progressive folk while talking

about out ambiguous feelings.” I mean, why not? This was one of the most popular posts in the month of December. Like I said, we’re weirder than we look. And to some of us, weird is cool.

WHAT’S THE BIG SECRET? The most anonymous forum on campus isn’t all that anonymous. The identity of the secrettellers is hidden, but when you ‘Like’ a post, make a comment, or write on the wall, everyone can see who you are. There is more danger attached to liking a post than actually posting it. When you speak up, you become more than a follower. However, that doesn’t seem to be scaring anyone away. In fact, speaking up on Richmond Confessions is becoming more and more popular. Peole who come clean about struggling with depression are often met with comments like, “I’ve been there. Message me.” or “I’m sorry for your troubles--I’m always here if you want to talk about it.” Unanonymously, students offer each other support, resources, and friendship. Honestly is powerful. The page is far from perfect, and not all the comments are nice ones. There will always be jerks and attention-seekers who could care less about the messages they send with their words. But despite the negativity, there is hope. The fact that people are so willing to reach out to one another reveals a level of courage and compassion that some may find surprising. Coming clean about struggles brings us closer on Confessions than we are in real life. What would happen if campus was a little more like a forum, and a little less like our sixth grade cafeteria. If Richmond Confessions is any indication, we may be ready for change. If we all start being a little more honest with ourselves, change might not be so far away. - MOLLY ROSSI

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