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Commentary: Confessions page strays from original purpose

Katie Madden, Arts Editor

Katie Madden, Arts Editor

By now most students have seen, or at least heard of, the ULV Confessions page on Facebook.

After being banned twice, it looks like the third installment of the confessionals will be alive for a bit longer due to stricter regulations set by the anonymous administrator.

It has been disheartening to see just how cruel, intolerant, misogynistic, and downright illiterate students at La Verne can be when they hide like cowards behind their computer screens.

To say that the page is causing a stir among students and faculty is an understatement. However, like most internet fads, it will likely die out just as quickly as it came to destroy students’ self-esteem and productivity.

The first La Verne Confessions page was created late last week and contained simple instructions for students to post their anonymous confessions through the survey site, surveymonkey.com, which would be filtered by the admin and posted to the page. The intent of the page was for students to share their wild stories and deepest secrets without repercussions, but of course, that is not only what happened.

Right away, the brutal anonymous messages started pouring in. Groups, organizations, sports teams and individuals became the targets of rumors, bashing, and name-calling. The page was quickly banned most likely because several of the offended students reported the page.

A second page sprung up immediately but was also quickly taken down too, which prompted the creation of the third and current page which specifically states to “keep it tasteful” if you mention someone’s name or a specific group.

While the current page has remained much milder than the others, the damage has already been done. It appears that the student body’s true and unpleasant colors are more fractured and much more immature and incoherent than previously thought or hoped.

Many of the posts have contained derogatory messages regarding the attractiveness of females at La Verne, the skill level of the sports teams, played-out criticisms of Greek life, and so on. Under the cloak of anonymity, students found and abused the power of free speech to say things they would normally never say publicly.

As a journalist and as a person who decided to write this piece with my name and my face next to my words, I highly value both freedom of speech and along with that, owning up to what you say and write, knowing fully what the consequences might be.

I get it; I understand the appeal of airing your gripes to the world without having to face consequences, but it is all fun and games until someone hurts themselves or hurts others.

This is so much more than hurt feelings or the word bullying, which has become trivial and seemingly designated for children. Some people just do not have as tough of skin as others, and instead of belittling them and telling them to “suck it up” or “ignore the haters,” it is better to just not create these negative situations in the first place.

In a school that is already so small, there is no reason for students to further expose each other’s private business or to gossip like high schoolers anymore.

Sensitivity and censoring are extremely complex ideas, but I advocate for self-censorship and for at least a little human dignity.

I think a very simple filter for people to use is to not post something anonymously if they would not say it with their name attached to it.

Despite the bad, the ULV Confessions page has the potential to serve as both a positive and an entertaining pastime.

From classic movie quotes to disturbing and funny stories that don’t harm anyone, to confessions of students who truly need advice and guidance, the page should be a place for students to share their stories, their weirdness, their secrets and their mishaps and to come together, not to be further alienated.

Katie Madden, a junior journalism major, is arts editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by email at kaitlin.madden@laverne.edu.

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