Confessions’ creator emerges in heat of student criticism

‘Confessions’ creator emerges in heat of student criticism

By Cory Lesniak and Jackie Glosniak

November 13, 2013

Since Tuesday, Nov. 5, a Dominican University Confessions Facebook page has created buzz on campus. Hours after the page went live, it had 60 “likes.” 24 hours later, the confessions page had nearly 760 “likes” and took the school by storm with more than 500 posts on topics ranging from Chartwells to students having sexual intercourse on campus.

To post a confession, anyone can click on the SurveyMonkey.com link, where the person can anonymously write a confession. After submission, the administrator of the page is able to read the comments and post them on the page.  

Because of innuendos and offensive language posted, several students have begun to un-“like” the page and tell staff of their disappointment over the content. Arguments over why the page should be taken down range from lies being posted to rants that mock students.

One of the biggest questions has surrounded the creator of the page. Students and staff may be surprised to learn the creator is not even a Dominican student.

Adam Morris, friend of a Dominican student, visited the campus a few weeks ago and wanted to confess something related to his visit. After not finding a page on Facebook for DU confessions, Morris decided to create the page himself.

“I created this page so DU could have some fun,” Morris said. “At my school, the confession page helps students become more outgoing and willing to get to know each other. That’s how I made my friends at school. The goal is to keep the page up and entertaining.”

Regarding raunchy posts, Morris has posted that he will continue to do a better job of filtering comments that may be found offensive.

“I read each one posted to ensure they are appropriate to go up,” Morris added.

However, some students disagree that the page is being carefully monitored. Some believe the page should be shut down because much of the content is controversial.

“I have since dis-“liked” the page because of the racial and bullying comments being made,” junior Marisa Bondi said.

Some comments in question include a post suggesting a student appeal to black women by giving them watermelon and fried chicken.

“There are more racist comments than cyber bullying on the page, in my opinion,” junior Brian Manjarrez said.

As of Friday, Nov. 8, the “likes” had hit a steady number, raising some eyebrows whether students are “disliking” the page or no more are “liking” the page. Some believe it will be just a matter of time until it is shut down. The confessions page is not the first time Facebook has been controversial at Dominican.

In 2005, Dean of Students Trudi Goggin shut down access for over one year. The Facebook ban was in response to obscene photographs of students posted across campus and originated from Facebook. This was back when a .edu email address was needed to create an account, and because no student confessed to the disturbing content posted online and on campus, Goggin believed banning the site was appropriate.

In early 2012, a student created a short-lived Dominican memes page. Student ambassadors who took part in “liking” posts were warned to stop participating or face being fired. Some ambassadors lost their job and soon the creator shut the page down.

Contrary to popular belief, Goggin did not push a shut down of the memes page. The shut down is believed to have occurred due to pressure from the Office of Admissions.

Senior Jonathan Salamanca remembers the memes page and says the confessions page has done more harm than the memes ever did.

I don’t support this page because it stands for something negative,” Salamanca said. “I think students don’t realize that it actually is bullying other students because they just don’t know the students it’s causing harm to.”

Some agree the page is being used to bully other students. However, there was a bit of a difference in content between the old memes page and the confessions page. The memes page featured the stereotypical college memes searchable on the web, but none were used to target specific individuals.

“It’s interesting how slow the school is to shutting it down,” junior Brian Manjarrez said. “The memes based page was created and taken down quickly.”

One student, sophomore Kylene Cashin, experienced the ugliness of the confession page herself.

“I was humbled. At first I thought the page was very entertaining and saw little harm in it. As insulting things were said about my friends and I, though, I realized how hurtful the page could be,” Cashin said. Being subject to that gave me a new perspective on the page and of the sacrifices we make, sometimes unconsciously, to be a part of a group.”

Initially, Cashin thought the page entertaining but after seeing her insults hurled her way as well as to her own friends, she thought she had the wrong mindset about the page.

“No one wants to be unhappy, insulted, and put down. Although I was feeling a bit ashamed of myself and embarrassed by what was written I tried to push through that and speak up in hopes of inspiring others,” Cashin said.

Goggin was first made aware of the confessions page from leadership in Residence Life and says the administration is not planning on taking any immediate disciplinary action.

In a campus-wide email sent on Wednesday, Nov. 6, Goggin expressed that many of the posts are not reflective of Dominican values and urged students who feel they have been victims of cyber bullying to reach out to her and the Wellness Center.

“If we become aware of people who violate our code of conduct and can identify them, we’ll pursue them,” Goggin said.

Goggin says there is not an active investigation going on behalf of the administration in order to shut the page down but says if the school feels something is a conduct violation, they will investigate.

Goggin also says that students who are not posting anything related to cyber bullying should not be afraid of participating in the page but instead use caution regarding what they post.

“I think a public forum is a healthy thing,” she said. “I don’t think anyone wants to quash voice on this campus. That’s why we wouldn’t want to actively pursue closing this down but we’d much rather empower appropriate voice and encourage people to stand up and reflect.”

Goggin also thinks while some comments have been crude, others may have some validity to them and she urges students with concern about the campus to speak with her directly about them.

“Because we’re anonymous, we can kind of push out an alter ego and do something we would never do in our own name,” Goggin said. “People have some things they are concerned about and want done differently.”

Jessica Mackinnon, director of public information for the Office of Marketing and Communications, says other universities have similar sites and says Dominican is actually behind the curve.

“This has been an interesting experience for the administration [and staff] because a lot of us have conflicting opinions about what we should do,” Mackinnon said. “I don’t think there is any thought about ‘does this make the school look bad.’ This happens at colleges across the country.”

“I think relative to other pages that have been explored at other campuses, this editor has shown great restraint and tried to be very responsible,” Goggin said. “I applaud that. I think it’s a very challenging world in cyberspace.”

Morris says he would shut down the page if enough students complained.

“I’m trying to make the page more friendlier and bring more DU students to be more sociable to one another,” he said.

“The thing is, we can overprotect our own,” Goggin said. “Let [students] talk; it’s their page. If it does cross into any kind of bullying or identifiable individual bullying, we’re going to stand up and say that it’s not our mission and that it’s not okay. [But], this place is grounded and was founded on voice.”

Morris believes the page will help bring people together and create an atmosphere of more outgoing students. This weekend, he posted a survey asking students to say if the page should stay up. The decision to keep the page will be updated on Friday, Nov. 15.