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Opinion

University crippled by confessions page

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May 2, 2013

The UW-River Falls Confessions page on Facebook was recently shut down. On April 29, the administrator posted on the page and said it was being shut down “for the content posted in the past.” However, “content” is a euphemistic term for classifying the things that were posted on this Facebook page.

When the page was first created, it seemed harmless. Our University was simply following a trend. Many universities have these pages on Facebook or Twitter accounts that are dedicated to these student confessions.

However, it did not take long for this page to go completely sour. Students submitted confessions that used derogatory or profane language, perpetuated negative stereotypes and/or targeted specific groups on campus. In some cases, posts would even target specific people by name and absolutely rip them to pieces.

As a student, I am downright embarrassed about what was posted on this Facebook page, and I am ashamed that our University’s name is connected to this content. It is disheartening that students believe it is acceptable to say these types of things on the Internet. I guarantee that the people who posted these confessions would never say these things to the people they were talking about in person. If you would not say it to someone’s face, you should not be saying it on the Internet.

However, whether it is on the Internet or in person, people need to be careful about what they say to or about others. We are often so unaware of how the things we say impact those around us. In fact, studies have shown that human beings remember negative interactions far more clearly than they remember positive interactions. Therefore, one negative interaction with a person is far more powerful than 10 positive interactions with that same person.

In addition to the impact that our comments have on those around us, these comments also affect our reputation. The UWRF Confessions page has had a profoundly negative effect on the reputation of our University. This page can be viewed by anyone because it is available for public access. Anyone who views the page will likely assume that our campus is infested with cruel, uninviting students. To be perfectly honest, if the only interaction they had with our University was viewing this page, I would not blame them for thinking in this manner.

Furthermore, even if you think you are posting something anonymously, you are never truly anonymous. With the technological capabilities that exist today, it takes only seconds to trace the source of content that is posted on the internet. While the content may not have your name on it directly, it is linked to your Internet Protocol (IP) address. If someone wants to find out where a comment came from, it is fairly simple to do so.

I transferred to UWRF because I loved how welcoming and accepting the community was, and I do not feel as if this confessions page is an accurate representation of our University. However, I do not doubt that the page is an accurate representation of a small group of students. The problem is, this page not only makes that small group of students look terrible, but rather, it makes our entire University look terrible.

I visited the confessions page to gather information for this piece, and I could not help but notice that there is a small push to create another confessions page for our University.

One student said, “Just make a new page called UWRF Confessions.” This comment received 13 likes.

Another student agreed with the above comment and said, “Yeah, just make another.” This comment received one like.

Here is my message to these students: don’t do it. Creating another confessions page will only serve to further defame both your character and the character of our University as a whole.

It is extremely unfortunate that the UWRF Confessions Page has tainted the reputation of our University. However, there is a faint silver lining: we can improve our reputation by changing our behaviors. Be positive, treat others the same way you want to be treated in return, and be more cautious about what you say, both on and offline. We are adults in college, and it is time we started acting like it.

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.