‘Calvin College Confessions’ and ‘Crush’ go viral, college warns students

Photo courtesy Facebook.com.
Photo courtesy Facebook.com.

We’ve been getting emails and Facebook messages from students all day about these pages. Check out this story to read some of the opinions.

UPDATED (12:23 a.m.): Calvin College Confessions was taken down by the page’s owner shortly after midnight, as planned.

Two days ago, Calvin College Confessions didn’t exist. Now, it has almost 700 likes — and is about to be shut down, according to its administrator.

The Facebook page allows Calvin students to post their “confessions” anonymously, drawing comments about everything from academics to dating to pranks to even illegal activity.

But after an explosion of popularity, its creator has decided to shut the page down at midnight on Tuesday. Contrary to rumors on the page, Calvin’s administration has not contacted the owner to shut down the page, according to the owner.

“I never intended this to last long term,” said the page’s owner. “I think [Calvin shutting the page down] is inevitable if I keep the page up.”

The administrator also said that pressure from his dorm leadership contributed to his decision.

Another recently created social media page, Twitter’s @CalvinCrush, has also gone viral. Students anonymously submit their crushes, often using sexually explicit physical descriptions of the other students, who are mentioned by name.

Administrators of both pages agreed to an interview with Chimes under the condition of anonymity.

The idea for the confession page originally came from another school, and the page’s owner wanted to know what would happen if this page existed in a conservative Christian school setting.

“I was quite disturbed,” the owner said. “There are a lot of posts that I didn’t put on because I didn’t believe them. I’ve only posted about half of [the submissions].”

The owner then began wanting to use the page to draw attention to issues that students might not feel comfortable having their names attached to.

“It occurred to me that I could change what people would hear or think about: who needs to be heard more, how can I use this for something constructive,” the owner said.

Some students began writing about how their experience at Calvin has turned them off to the Christian faith, while others commented about their experience with depression.

“It’s much truer than anything I’ve read about Calvin. There should be a place where actual students can talk about their actual experiences, and being anonymous takes away that fear of shame,” said the owner.

The owner hopes that the page will spark more intentional conversation about issues, especially depression, on campus.

“The number of depressed people was really shocking,” the owner said. “There are obviously a few people where it’s very alienating and I think this page expressed this quite well. Maybe there’s an opportunity for people to go to Broene [Counseling Center] anonymously.”

But not all posts on the page have been innocent.

Tim Ellens, director of communications and marketing at Calvin, said that Calvin has received calls from families of current students concerned with the content of the site.

“I understand what it’s like to be in college and have a rebellious spirit, but I want students to be careful and think through their actions and the long-term implications of things that could happen,” he said.

Ellens said that acts that violate the student conduct code on the ‘Confessions’ page could be investigated.

“Depending on the nature of [the violations] or whether someone comes forward, the college is obligated to follow up on those leads,” he said.

And although the site uses a submission process that keeps posts anonymous, Ellens said students shouldn’t be so sure.

“We can go to deeper measures using a forensic effort to see who is doing what,” he said.

Ellens said that the content on @CalvinCrush is also a matter for concern.

“When tweets are sexually explicit about certain people, we cross over the line into the sexual harassment area,” he said. “Someone’s rash statement then has some serious consequences.”

But the administrator of @CalvinCrush said that more than half the submissions are censored.

“There are posts that bully people and talk about people in very malicious or derogatory ways that I censor,” the owner wrote in an email interview with Chimes.

“Moreover, if anyone ever feels that a post is too sexual or they feel uncomfortable, they can send me a message,” the owner said.

The owner has removed two or three posts due to personal requests. “I respect people’s personal requests and delete the tweet immediately,” the owner said.

When asked whether the content of @CalvinCrush was harming Calvin’s reputation, the owner of the Twitter feed said no.

But content isn’t the only concern that Ellens has with the social media pages.

He also said that the pages represent a copyright violation: the @CalvinCrush page uses the Calvin seal, entry sign, Calvin Knights logo and even the Calvin College name illegally, according to Ellens.

“Those are all identity marks of Calvin College and are registered trademarks,” he said.

Ellens said that simply using “Calvin” in the name of the page would not breach copyright law.

About the Author

Ryan Struyk

Ryan Struyk was the Chimes editor in chief for fall 2013. He's a senior studying mathematics and political science. Being a journalist means being both student and teacher of the world, and that’s why his job is the best one out there.

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