College students use Facebook for sex 'confessions'
NANETTE ASIMOV San Francisco Chronicle
4:42 PM, Mar 15, 2013
At Columbia University in New York, students are envious of higher-scoring classmates -- and obsessed with sex. At the University of Nebraska, roommates are a big complaint. And students are obsessed with sex. At University of California-Berkeley, students waste little time vexing about scores or roommates. They're too obsessed with sex.
Revelations like these are found on Facebook "confession" pages springing up across the country, the 21st century equivalent of the college dorm's bathroom wall: public, anonymous and the perfect listening post for the obsessions of your hot little heart.
That's also true at San Francisco State University, where administrators are demanding that students tear down that Facebook wall.
Their obsession isn't about the titillating confessions. "It's about the brand," said Ellen Griffin, spokeswoman for San Francisco State.
"Please immediately remove any mention of and affiliation to the university immediately," the administration posted this week on the Facebook site SFSU Confessions. "If reference to our name, abbreviations and trademarks is not removed, the university will pursue further action."
The page by San Francisco State students features a brochure-like photo of the campus quad and a picture of the university's name etched on a wall, which Griffin said could suggest that the university endorses the site.
Student reaction to the demand was swift:
"NOOOOOOO!!!" wrote Zaireen Hanif, summing up the thinking of many.
The names of people responding to confessions are visible. But the confessions themselves are anonymous as long as people don't post them in the traditional Facebook way. Instead, by clicking on a link at the top of the page they can submit a confession directly to an anonymous host, who posts it under a number.
No. 18: I'm a girl and all about guys but I always wondered how it would feel to have sex with a girl.
No. 35: Sometimes I sneak into the fine arts building at night with my boyfriend when my roommate is home and we have sex in the art locker rooms.
No. 37: I caught some girl watching porn on the terrace level of the Chavez Building.
Those are among the rare few that manage to avoid swear words, ethnic references or explicit descriptions of body parts and functions.
Around the country, many confession sites feature their university's logo and vary in popularity. The site by Columbia students, up since Feb. 21, has 725 likes. The University of Nebraska students' site, up since Feb. 24, has 106 likes. Portland State students promise even the host won't know who wrote the confessions. Their site has gathered 1,135 likes since it began on Jan. 15.
I like Harvard better then Yale," is a recent confession on the Yale students' site, with 763 likes since Feb. 21.
The most recent confession on the Harvard students' site is about oral sex. Begun on Feb. 18, it's got 1,138 likes.
"They're addicted," said Joe Fitzgerald, a journalism student at San Francisco State who wrote about the confession site for the Golden Gate Xpress, the campus paper. "It's on everyone's lips on campus. It's like a peek into everyone else's world."
Its malevolent side effect is that students sometimes accuse classmates of being behind the anonymous confessions, tagging their name onto the Facebook post and even identifying their room number -- whether or not they had anything to do with the confession.
"The confessions page went from being a way for people to come out and say something on their mind, to the 'Mean Girls Burn Book' of S.F. State," said Catherine Anne Gastelum, a math major who used to enjoy the page.