Cries for help and mounds of racism: The underbelly of Lancsfessions submissions that only admins see

‘The university has failed in supporting students and now an anonymous confessions page has to pick up the slack’

Lancfessions 2: Electric Boogaloo is known as the hive for students to anonymously confess to their darkest secrets. Boogaloo seems to have become Lancaster students’ go-to for all things, whether it be finding people to live with or finding people that share their opinion on the new series of The Crown, the admins behind the page have seen everything.

Despite the often light-hearted nature of Boogaloo’s confessions, nationally many university confessions page admins have claimed that suicidal submissions have doubled. Lancsfessions have noticed the rise too.

The admins felt that they could not disclose their identities due to “safety reasons” but felt a responsibility as “letting the students know what’s going on should be part and parcel of every confessions page. They are the voices of the students that affect student life in a different way to say, LUSU.”

‘A lot of the confessions rejected are threats, including the use of grotesque pictures’

To start with, the posts you see come out of Lancsfessions are just a tiny fraction of those that are submitted. Many non-mental health related confessions are rejected, largely because they are offensive behaviour, according to the admins.

“While not being deliberate, people have been hurt by some of the confessions on here. There is never any intent to cause harm of course, this page is there to be a voice of the students. With nearly 10,000 confessions accepted by this point, one or two have got through where one of the admins at the time will have missed something or mis-clicked.

“It happens sadly and people get hurt, even taking down the confessions can’t fix that sometimes. I don’t want it to be that way and don’t wish harm on anyone.”

“People have been banned by the page. Some of the trolls from Overheard including people with pretty extreme views have made comments on this page before, including an anti-trans campaigner who was very swiftly blocked as soon as their comments were known. What if these people find out who I am? I don’t want to be dealing with that.

“This page has been subject to a number of threats anonymously. A lot of the confessions rejected are threats, including the use of grotesque pictures which is why the decision has been made to ban picture submissions permanently. If you were on Twitter a few weeks ago, you will have seen a number of bots replying to famous people, predominantly Donald Trump, posting in a non-English language and then grotesque pictures underneath. This page was also hit, and it was terrifying at the time. It’s likely been done by bots but you can’t be too sure.”

‘Posts regarding mental health have increased substantially’

Lancfessions agreed that submissions had increased this term, and said: “It’s worrying to see.” Whilst the admins have put in filters to ensure that people are shown the resources required, the page still sees plenty of mental health posts and consider it “worrying that people turn to an anonymous page as the support at university isn’t there.”

On the Lancfessions page, the support for the anonymous submitter relies on commenters giving advice, which the admins found “disheartening.”

“The university has failed in supporting students and now an anonymous confessions page has to pick up the slack, which is a damning indictment to the lack of mental health investment and services provided by Lancaster.”

They said that mental health submissions have become a part of Lancfessions: “So there gets to a point of understanding how bad the situation is and subsequent desire to help people in need.”

One admin said: “I just want to help but the university need to pull their weight, Lancfessions will always be a space for people to share their concerns.”

The majority of discriminatory posts include hate of the trans community, the Jewish community and the Chinese community

Several pages similar to Lancfessions 2: Electric Boogaloo have been removed in the past. Boogaloo explained that they too had a strike for racism but stated that it “came off an innocent post and no harm was meant by it.”

After BAME PTO Max Kafula received an anonymous racist attack last week, Boogaloo said that racist submissions do come in and the majority are antisemitic or anti-Chinese. They stated: “Neither of which are acceptable and neither of which will ever be accepted. In more recent times, anti-Palestine confessions have come in too.”

They said that racist confessions around BAME are very rare, as well as homophobic confessions, but transphobic confessions are “somewhat common.”

“We had that transphobe come on to the page and be quickly removed. The page has had dialogue with LGBT and welfare officers in the past to make sure nothing unacceptable gets put through that maybe looked innocent enough without knowing the true meaning.”

Boogaloo stated that “the majority of discriminatory topics target other minority groups” and encourage “any dialogue with religious and liberation societies”  so that Lancfessions can “become even more tolerant going forward while still being the hive of bench-shitting rumours and place of accountability that it should be.”

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