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22 January 2014

‘UMiami Secrets’ tells all

MUG_Patrick Quinlan

Like many students, I found myself procrastinating last semester during finals much more than I needed to be. Faced with the Internet’s endless distractions, one site that stood out beyond the rest was the Facebook page, “UMiami Secrets.”

Some feel (in comments on postings or otherwise) that the Secrets page serves no productive purpose on campus. And yet, I remain firmly convinced of the positive role the page plays at the university, and I highly endorse following it.

“UMiami Secrets,” the unaffiliated, anonymous, student confession page currently standing at 2,100 likes, is a forum where students can read, or submit, whatever “secrets” they have buzzing around. The page started last February, after a bloom of similar pages at colleges across the country. In fact, the heroic single page administrator has pointed to the New York University page as a specific inspiration, although the NYU page has only 1,400 more secrets despite ten times the likes.

“UMiami Secrets” clearly took off at the end of last semester, with more than 700 secrets posted during final exams alone. Checking in to riveting tales of sexual misadventures, studying stress, or even the occasional family-friendly secret became part of my studying ritual, and I’ve remained hooked ever since.

Some of the posts are less worthwhile than others. The debate over Greek Life for example, can seem as long running as it can sophomoric. There are inevitable expressions of frustration over editorial balance by the admin from disgruntled would-be posters. The quality of postings can be repetitive, or poorly reflect on a refined image of a cosmopolitan campus to the eyes of concerned university administrators.

There have been poignant discussions on the social stereotypes of campus life, the nature of student government, sexual health and abuse, quarter-life crises, and even local campus celebrities like “Tiara Girl” (for background: Tiara Girl is charming, and wears a tiara because she is a princess).

I’ve personally been moved to tears by the outpouring of support shown on postings about depression and suicidal thoughts. Because of comments I myself have made on Secret postings, I have been approached by friends I didn’t know were dealing with serious health concerns.

We stand as a student body in numbers that pale in comparison to larger state schools. But until the Secrets page exploded, I never felt that there was a place to reach out to the disparate social circles around us. We’ve stood together at things like Homecoming, maybe, but never until now has there been a place for us all to talk. Obviously, the page can be a bit noisy, but the admin described it best:

“It’s a bizarre juxtaposition of the best and the worst about Miami … I think it’s interesting how it blends so many emotions and responses – the posts can make you laugh, cringe, smile, or they can make you sad. They can provoke deep conversations, and they can show how supportive the Miami community can be.”

Maybe thus far, that’s the real secret to come from the page.

 

Patrick Quinlan is a sophomore majoring in international studies and political science.