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MC Confessions: some professors’ takes

February 7, 2014

One of the time-honored maxims of Monmouth College is that everyone knows everyone. Many students believe that because of the small population within our school, they’re able to assume who the sender is on the “Monmouth Confesses” Facebook page.

Professor Julie Rothbardt, “friend” of the page, disagrees and says, “It’s a small campus, but if it’s truly a secret, you may never realize it’s the person you’re sitting next to.”

Rothbardt refers to the internationally known website, PostSecret, to give the students some insight on the therapeutic possibilities of a anonymous confessional. A man named Frank Warren runs an ongoing public art project that allows people to send in secrets on postcards. Readers are able to interpret the anonymous messages for what their own personal context is and continue on believing that others can relate to their situation.

Doug Rankin, a theatre professor at Monmouth and “friend” of the page, relayed how, a few years ago, the school had a website similar to what we have today. “Years ago, that was really the scandal,” but in comparison, this page is “more tame.”

This may be partly due to the Survey Monkey link within the website. The originators of the site are given the ability to sensor everything that goes onto the page, and are able to prevent any form of cyber bullying from posting.

“My biggest concern would be if people start to get bullied [because] they’re opening up in a way they may not have in the past,” Rothbardt said.

There’s no ignoring some of these posts, though. Rankin considers it fun and amusing. Rothbardt doesn’t necessarily agree. “The ones for shock value – you’re going to get that. People wouldn’t follow it if they didn’t have the shock value,” said Rothbardt.

The page has its moments of more serious discussion as well. Often there are posts about loneliness and shyness. “If we sense that there’s somebody that needs counseling, or needs to talk to somebody, we try to help them out in any way that we can,” said Rankin.

In such a case, our student population has come to prove that our tighter knit community results in a more supportive one. “I’ve seen a couple of those that are replied to in a really positive manner,” said Rankin.

While “Monmouth Confesses” seems to be going strong, Rothbardt says that she doesn’t feel the need to post anonymously on any public webpage. Rankin does admit to submitting one or two public comments on the page in support for the students. He added that he enjoys knowing how things are on campus. “It’s nice to get a feel for the pulse of the campus.”

These two professors don’t predict a future for “Monmouth Confesses,” however.

Katherine Carter
Contributing Writer

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