Junior Chris Yoder provided a distraction from homework last Wednesday. Inspired by a similar page produced for Messiah College, Yoder created the EMU Confessions page on Facebook around 2 in the afternoon, and, by midnight, had posted confession #219. The posting of submitted confessions continued into Friday, and finally concluded with Yoder’s declaration on Sunday, after two days of inactivity that, the site “is done.”
After a week, 31,775 separate individuals have perused through 299 EMU Confessions.
Yoder initially created the page “to be something that people on EMU’s campus can have fun looking at, and laugh together with their friends,” but as the submissions began to pile in, along with concerns and rebukes, it became something more. In his final post, Yoder asked the question, “What’s more important in Life, continuing in the rut of the status quo or branching out for a moment, growing in relationship with those around you, and laughing at a mutually shared irregularity?”
Yoder received multiple submissions from concerned parents and students, who criticized the page. Some worried that the site was opening up EMU students to potential repercussions from the school or law-enforcement. Others questioned Yoder’s Christian faith. For now Yoder has decided not to continue updating the page with more confessions, partly because of the disapproving messages.
Though Yoder received a number of negative responses, EMU Confessions page has 552 “Likes,” with many of the separate confessions receiving plenty of their share of attention. For example, Post #253, “Sometimes late at night if I am all alone in the VaCa lab, I will edit photos/videos without my pants on. It makes me more creative…” received 20 “Likes,” the Face- book equivalent of two thumbs up.
No matter the specific opinions, EMU Confessions united the EMU campus in dialogue, and for Becca Martin, Junior, that should not be forgotten in the debate.
Martin remarked, “That [Wednesday] night I felt more connected to the EMU student body as a whole than I had in a while…For as much as organizations, events like Spiritual Life week, Intellectual Life, and even SGA, try to promote conversation on campus, it was this spontaneous page that succeeded in getting everyone to have the same conversation.”
Director of Marketing and Communications, Andrea Wenger, sent a message to faculty and staff after receiving a number of responses from concerned individuals. The message included the admission that ‘we could not (nor would we) ‘take down’ or try to manage the page in any way.’ Wenger trusts that most viewers of EMU Confessions are “savvy enough to know that the less-than-complimentary confessions do not represent the majority of what happens at EMU,” and that they are “also smart enough to understand that there are students at EMU – as there are at any college – who make poor choices about how they use the donor and family resources that make their EMU experience possible.”
The site’s content continues to be viewable, all 299 anonymous posts admitting, among other things, to running around campus desnudo, having sex in a surprising number of locations, enjoying early-morning bike-rides, to feelings of alienation, doubt, loneliness, and the popular confession to expending bodily waste into, or in some cases onto, inappropriate receptacles. Too many posts of the last example provoked First-Year Rachel Bowman to respond, “I’m now afraid to walk outside without shoes on because people apparently pee everywhere.”
Yoder is considering opening up the page again in the future. He did not start the similar pages titled EMU Crushes, or the short-lived EMU Hookups.