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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Opinion

Confessions page disgraces students, University

Morgan Stippel

Published December 5th, 2013

The new UW-River Falls Confessions page has exactly 1,889 “likes.” In addition, even if UWRF students do not directly “like” the Facebook page, they are often exposed to the content when their Facebook friends “like,” share or comment on posts from the page.

This confessions page was created to replace the old confessions page that was shut down at the end of spring semester last year. This confessions page is heading down a familiar path. While the administrator of the page claims to be filtering the posts to prevent cyber bullying, it is obvious that these efforts are nothing short of pathetic.

On Tuesday morning of this past week, I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed and came across a post from UWRF Confessions. The post read, “Tell the [racial slur] to quit there [expletive] about the rebal flags and deal with it yee yee.” This post was “liked” by 39 people. This is just one of many posts that can be classified as derogatory. I normally do not get involved in Facebook banter, but in this case, I was unable to resist due to my sheer rage.

First, we are all college students who should know the difference between there, their, and they’re, by this point in our schooling, as well as how to correctly spell “rebel.” Second, “yee” is not a word. If you will not take my word for it, please look it up in a dictionary.

Beyond these basic grammatical errors, I had a major issue with the racial slur that was used in the post. I am positive I am not the first person to realize that UWRF is not the most ethnically diverse campus on the face of the planet, and I am also positive I will not be the last. However, this lack of diversity cannot be used as an excuse for ignorance and disrespect.

When one pulls into River Falls on Cascade Avenue, the first sign he or she will see ironically states, “Visit our inclusive campus.” How can our campus claim to be inclusive when the administration and students allow a page like this to represent the entire campus and student body?

Although I am not a member of the targeted minority group, I was not unaffected by the post. In fact, I can empathize with the targeted group. This past summer, I worked in the heart of North Minneapolis and was exposed to more cultural groups than I can count on my fingers and toes combined. As a white female, I found myself, for the first time, in the minority. I know what it feels like to be on the outside looking in, constantly wondering if you are fitting in.

Nobody at UWRF should ever have to feel this way because every student here is unique and has positive qualities that enrich our campus. However, if we continue to pigeonhole one another based on the color of our skin, where we come from, or what our majors are, we will never have the “inclusive campus” we claim to have.

When I read that post, I was ashamed to be a student at UWRF. I am downright embarrassed to attend the same university with people who believe this kind of language is acceptable, and I am embarrassed when employers read my resume and see UWRF plastered across the top of the page. If I had not already transferred schools once in my college career, I would consider transferring again. I can now say I understand why the admissions office is constantly worried about retention rates.

I understand the administration is not directly responsible for the content posted on this confessions page, but for all extensive purposes, it is. We all are. The opinion of one is the opinion of all because each one of us makes up UWRF, and that is the name listed at the top of the Facebook page.

As a UWRF student, I not only request, but demand that the administration takes swift action to shut down the confessions page. It is not only damaging to students, but also to the reputation of our university as a whole.

Stillwater Area High School was able to successfully shut down two Twitter accounts that were similar to the UWRF Confessions page on Facebook. If a high school can take this action, I would certainly hope our University can too.

Morgan Stippel is a political science major and a professional writing minor. When she graduates from UW-River Falls, she wants to become a state prosecutor and specialize in domestic violence cases.

Comments

9 responses to Confessions page disgraces students, University

  1. Connor says:

    This was the poorest written article I have ever read. People love the confessions page. Get over your self

  2. Connor says:

    You were planning to transfer schools because of a post on the confessions page? GOOD RIDDANCE

  3. Student says:

    I think you’ve missed the entire point of this column. It does not matter how many people love the confessions page; the fact that there are so many non-River Falls people (friends and family members of students who like or share posts) who are also exposed to the page. When students post hurtful comments concerning others, they reflect poorly on the entire university.

    I understand that students want to exercise of freedom of speech, but it’s also important to understand that certain types of speech (hate speech and slander) can be illegal. Many of the posts are relatively, but after scrolling through the past months, there have been several instances where specific students names are mentioned in conjunction with embarrassing events that may not even be true.

    In addition, many of the hateful posts towards confederate flags are racially abrasive. Derogatory terms such as “white trash,” “nig-nogs,” and “rednecks” are used freely, without any consideration to the people they may offend. If students want the freedom of speech, why can’t they be level-headed about their beliefs? Also, when broadcasted on such a prominent facebook page, these terms do not mark River Falls as the inclusive university it strives to be.

    One aspect is certain: the confessions page cannot remain the way it is. Removing the page is an option (perhaps not for the UWRF administrators, but for the students.) As members of the page, we have the ability to report it, however, inevitably someone will probably create a new, similar page.

    Other options may revise certain aspects of the page. Here are a few:
    1. Remove the label “UWRF” from the title because it gives the impression that what is posted on the page is the view of all students who attend.
    2. Stricter guidelines in submitting posts. Students should be able to voice their opinions, but not unreasonably. Controversial comments may be posted, but not if they contain racist/derogatory language or threaten with violence.
    3. Do not include specific names in posts. In many cases, information posted on the confessions page is hurtful and untrue (in reference to both students and professors mentioned.) Perhaps the page would be more successful if it took an approach similar to the “Overheard at UWRF” facebook page and left specific names out of posts.

    While I realize that it may be unreasonable to expect all of these changes, it is our responsibility as students to represent the campus positively. Perhaps making some of these changes will encourage students to express their opinions reasonably and professionally, unlike the ad hominem rationale Connor uses.

  4. Ryan says:

    Dear Connor,
    The fact that people love said confessions page in question is symbolic of the ignorance of the student body. Surely this is not the most poorly written you have ever read. The columnist is merely exercising a right vested to all of us via the constitution of the United States of America.

  5. Mike says:

    I believe that the administrator of the “Confessions” page needs to do a much better job at weeding-out comments that endorse cyber-bullying. The page truly does reflect poorly on the University, even though the page isn’t run by the University.

  6. Jessica Stewart says:

    Although I agree that the UWRF-Confessions page isn’t always the kindest source of daily drama, if you don’t support it, don’t read it. The people who write things that are cruel and narrow minded will find another outlet, their power comes from those who read and “like” what they post. Ignoring them sends a strong message that’s it’s not accepted, and if you want to change the problem, the Confessions Page isn’t where you should start.
    Also, UWRF AND the surrounding community is quite ethnically diverse. We have groups from Brazil, Asia, Europe and others that contribute to life here. It is the editor of this article’s short-sightedness that allows such a remark, and it is your own fault if you don’t see it and don’t participate. Do not judge others who don’t make friends with those who are different, sometimes there is simply no common ground, though there is still mutual respect. If you feel UWRF is culturally stagnant, please, open your eyes. Because it is not.

  7. Joel says:

    I don’t understand why people scrutinize the page; and yes I agree with Jessica Stewart don’t read the page if you don’t like it. It is very easy to just block a page it would take you three clicks to do so. So that way it doesn’t go out to the people you say it offends. I know personally probably around 300 people on campus that read the page daily and have a good time doing so, it is entertaining.
    Thank you for your concern but as you said we are college students, we can have the ability to deal with this simply if we really wanted to. More good than bad comes from this.

  8. freddy falcon says:

    I am sorry but Morgan you are seriously overreacting. this page is all in good fun and the admin does a very good job at weeding out poor post. I’m sorry that you have forgotten how to look the other way and ignore petty things that offend you.

  9. Kyle says:

    This writer is totally not justified to complain about another writer’s poor use of grammar when she uses the phrase “for all extensive purposes.” Morgan, if you’re going to regurgitate a tired cliche, at least spew it back at us correctly. The proper phrase is “for all intents and purposes.”