From party stories to depressed outcries to online bullying, the Pacific confessions page has been the center of controversy around campus since it gained it’s first “like” in 2012.
The confessions administrator, who asked to remain anonymous, was inspired by the confessions page from Oregon State University and began a Pacific branch with the intention of giving students a place to write about their comical adventures.
What began as a fun outlet quickly turned to a concern when various posts about sexual assault started surfacing.
Since December 2014, the Pacific Confessions Page has posted three separate accounts of sexual assault, including one that named a fraternity and place in February.
The administrator said the sexual assault posts are some of the most disturbing of the posts he has seen since he started the page but plans to continue to post them without censorship.
“Students need to know they have a say and can bring things to attention
they might have felt they couldn’t had it not been anonymous,” he said.
Of the three universities in the Northwest Conference that have confessions pages, Pacific’s was the only one to have posts about sexual assault.
The administrators of larger universities, such as Oregon State University, California State University Chico and the University of California Santa Barbara, said they have seen smaller numbers of sexual assault posts come through their pages and have posted them for the same reason the Pacific administrator does.
Dean of Students Will Perkins said while the confessions page serves a good purpose of giving students an outlet and putting them in touch with various resources through the option to comment on posts, it is a concern because of its unreliability and anonymity.
“There is a big difference between an official report, which triggers a conduct system and post like this that can’t do the same thing because there is just a lack of information,” Perkins said.
Because confessions pages are so new, there is a level of ambiguity to how the university must approach posts
The University of California Santa
Barbara administrator recalled a post that went up on his page four months ago, describing a student being molested by a Resident Assistant. He said the post was enough for the university to investigate but they were unable to find adequate evidence given the nature of the post. Pacific has a less vigorous approach to online forum pages as they are not university-affiliated.
“Being the Title 9 Coordinator and the Vice President, it is not my job to go looking into things like an anonymous Facebook page about particular events,” said Title 9 Coordinator and Vice President Mark Ankeny. “But if people alert us to it or alert us about the information having patterns it would be our responsibilities to look into that.”
Speaking specifically to the post made in February, naming a Kappa Delta Sigma party as the location where a student was allegedly assaulted, Perkins said he was unable to comment on whether or not the university was investigating the incident.
Kappa Delta Sigma judicial chair Ryan Beck said the fraternity did an
internal investigation and did not find evidence to support the claim and they were never contacted from the school with any questions or inquiry.
To give students a more useful anonymous outlet than an online forum, Campus Wellness Coordinator Laura Siltanen explained that there is an anonymous online report form available on the university website.
Perkins said that while the university takes everything it hears about sexual assault very seriously, it is able to do more with an actual report than a claim made on a confessions page.
Perkins also speculated that, while there are resources for students wishing to remain anonymous, many may not be aware of them and are henceforth driven to turn to outlets like the confessions page as a result.
“Going to the university about stuff like this isn’t always the best decision. I want to make sure the administration sees these posts,” the Pacific Confessions Administrator said. “Pacific is really bad about communicating social issues to students. They need to see that this stuff is still happening and the administration needs to talk to us.”