Wash U Confessions administrator to step down, requests page become dormant
The Wash U Confessions administrator, junior Brian Lam, will resign his post of the Facebook forum page in February and will not pass the page along, as is per tradition.
I initially met Brian in the fall of 2015 while writing an article titled “Not Alone.” We have since become good friends, and over the past few months I have come to see the negative effects that Wash U Confessions has both on him as an individual and on the WU community as a whole.
When Brian approached me with his thoughts on retiring the page, we opened an extensive dialogue that concluded in my accepting to help him explain and announce his decision.
Any future administrator would be subject to a great deal of personal abuse. In the 507 days that Brian has anonymously run the page, he has received more than 7,000 confessions, about one-third of which have actually reached the public eye.
“What people see are the submissions that I post. Behind those is a much darker truth,” Brian said.
Being privy to the full list of confessions, both posted and unposted, I have witnessed the full range of vulgar, racial, religious, and mother-based insults anonymously targeting him.
“The worst part is that these attacks could come from anybody, including people I know,” he said. “Nowadays, the first thing I think about when I meet new people is whether they’ve ever tried to anonymously intimidate the admin without knowing it was me.”
Brian has also received countless posts seeking to intimidate him into posting certain confessions. He recalls one confession that he received during the Ferguson protests on campus shortly after he became administrator of the page.
“I stopped posting political arguments about the Ferguson protests and someone accused me of being ‘one of those people who doesn’t support diversity.’ But they don’t know me. I’m an Asian American student who works multiple jobs while going to school,” he said.
Brian continued, “I initially wanted to give the students a way to say things that otherwise would go unsaid. But as the page grew, the submissions became political and angry.”
In a time when countless emails from Chancellor Wrighton’s office call for open and honest discussions about diversity, Wash U Confessions has served not as such a forum but as a setting in which people can anonymously attack and engage in one sided arguments.
“People aren’t interested in discussion. They’re interested in telling others why they’re wrong,” Lam said. “As the page grew, the funny confessions stopped coming in, and the page was increasingly used as a forum to complain and spread politics. Wash U Confessions was serving only to divide the community.”
Considering the abuse any future admin is sure to endure and the negative effects of the page on the WU community, I fully support Lam’s decision to resign and insist that the page should not be resurrected upon Lam’s resignation.
“I’m happy with how much Wash U Confessions has grown and with how I ran the page. When I took over the page, I did so with the intent of letting people speak their thoughts that otherwise would go unspoken,” Lam said. “It was hard to know when that job was done or if there would ever be a finish line, but for now, I think the page has served its purpose and this is a good place to stop.”
I am resolved to agree.