On campus beat: Minnesota college students confess their sins on Facebook

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 6, 2013 - 6:01 PM

 

Class crushes, sex exploits and stories of getting “super hammered Saturday.” College students have a new, anonymous forum for revealing their secrets: Facebook “confessions” pages popping up on college campuses across the country.

Joseph LaBarre, a sophomore at the University of St. Thomas, started a page for the St. Paul school in February and quickly began receiving more than 300 submissions daily. Students submit secrets via a survey tool, so “I have no idea who’s confessing what,” LaBarre said.

One post: “I’ve had sex with two St Thomas twins neither sister knows about the other.”

The confessions can be a headache for folks molding the colleges’ official brands. They often ask the pages’ administrators to remove copyrighted material, as the University of Minnesota did for its big block “M.” Beyond that, they have little control.

“There are people who will say offensive and disrespectful things,” said Lindsey Heffern, the U’s social media manager. “I think it’s unfortunate, because ultimately it reflects on the university as a whole.”

The administrator of the U’s confessions page, who asked that his name not be used, said by e-mail that “unlike other schools, I like to choose the responses that are going to be entertaining, yet retain a sense of class.”

Some of the most popular posts on the U’s page — which has about 5,500 “likes,” compared to 117,000 for the U’s official page — are pretty tame.

“What did one Minnesota student say to the other Minnesota student on their snow day?” one posted after a 9-inch snowfall this week. “NOTHING BECAUSE THAT NEVER HAPPENED.” That got more than 1,160 likes.

While St. Thomas officials have worried about the image projected by the confessions page, LaBarre contends that it could actually help St. Thomas attract prospective students. Some might be leaning toward a state school, thinking that a Catholic college doesn’t know how to party, he said.

“The page shows them that you can come get a high-quality education,” LaBarre said, “and still have that night life, too.”

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