Students sound off over viral ‘Confessions’ and ‘Crush’ pages

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

Click here for the full story on the viral social media pages and the reaction from the college.

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

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.

Sophomore Joel Altena saw great value in many of the confessions posted on Facebook.

“I believe the page to be a very real expression of what it means to be human,” he said.

However, he was concerned with some of the posts. “There are some things that should probably remain unknown to the public at Calvin.” He felt the benefits of witnessing community struggles and joys won out.

“Ultimately the positives of creating this fun, honest, real social networking site outweigh negatives, I believe. I love it because what we are doing is sharing stories, and I believe stories are the best way we can share as Christians together,” he said.

Senior Jacqueline Ristola deemed the confessions page to be both valuable and destructive.

“What’s made this brief page so valuable is it gives a strong dose of perspective,” she said, “We can and are entrenched in our own worldview that can lead to self-praise and problem denial. I still love Calvin, but I no longer believe the institution is nearly perfect like I once did.”

Ristola added that characterizing the page as being “merely good fun or totally banal proves to be overreaching,” saying that the page has succeeded in that it is promoting “passionate public discourse.”

“I believe that [the confessions page] tarnishes the reputation of Calvin College,” said sophomore Mike Berghuis, who said that these types of things happen at all colleges and that it “shines a bad light on Calvin.”

Berghuis was especially concerned with the reliability of the posts saying, “Many of the things on Calvin Confessions are made up or exaggerated by students trying to be funny or get their post put up. While these things may be humorous to us, the public may believe that they are all real, and that depicts an even more negative, false image of Calvin College.”

Incoming freshman Matthew Schepers felt the confessions page was relatively fun and harmless; however, @CalvinCrush did not receive his blessing.

“Not only is [@CalvinCrush] juvenile, but also irresponsible and probably sinful,” he said. “I’m not saying I’m perfect, but Calvin Crushes disgusts me.”

Sophomore David Vanderhooft held similar opinions about @CalvinCrush.

“It’s a humorous and potentially good idea, but it gets too sexual of comments and should be filtered,” he said.

Vanderhooft said that both pages wield a destructive influence.

“We should not condone that kind of behavior or bragging about that kind of behavior when we are called to be image bearers of Christ,” said Vanderhooft about the drunken and sexual themes common on the web pages.

Senior Maria Sedjo promoted the general idea of the confessions page.

“Many of the comments on the page are from people who think that they are the only ones at Calvin who act or feel a particular way,” she said, adding, “Besides, some of the stuff on there is just hilarious.”

Alternatively, @CalvinCrush received little praise from Sedjo, who said that people just visit the page to view the rude or sexually degrading comments.

“It only seems to highlight any sexual frustration or confusion that’s going on.”

Senior Damon Zuidema also applauded the open forum of the confessions page saying, “It’s a place where we can share our thoughts and activities without having to feel judged.”

Concurrently, Zuidema said he understands the harmful influence of the page.

“It’s for the most part turned into a ‘Let’s all hate on Calvin’ atmosphere,” he said.

Junior Ben Orlebeke condoned the student-run confessions page for its honesty.

“It’s a page by students, for students, and I would hazard a guess that it’s pretty therapeutic for some of us,” he said.

Orlebeke said that the page helps show students they are not alone in their personal struggles, citing a number of depression related posts.

“Now, hopefully, they’ve seen that there are students – complete strangers – who love and care for them. If that isn’t worth keeping the page up, I don’t know what is,” he said.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea that has shed light on serious problems students have with their attendance at Calvin,” said freshman Amandeep Bal about the confessions page.

“Sure, there are some humorous posts to sift through, but once you get past them there are some real gems to be found for the administration.”

Junior Eden McCune did not find the confession page to be humorous; rather she felt it showed the “nasty side” of Calvin College that should not be a source of pride.

“What I have read on that page has mostly been either people boasting about the bad things they have done and saying that they are not ashamed or people complaining about Calvin. Neither of these are confessional, and in fact are doing the opposite thing of confessing,” she said. 

Additional reporting by Ryan Struyk, online editor.