BATmin, SADmin and Dadmin open up about the page’s origins, meme wars, and more.
interviewed by Ali Pitargue
illustrated by Sheku Nafisi
What is the social and mental toll of being a student at BCIT?
The BCIT Confessions page on Facebook could possibly give you an idea. This is where the stresses and frustrations surrounding BCIT come to an unhinged light, as students anonymously submit their secrets and brutally honest thoughts to be read online. Aside from badmouthing and gossip, BCIT students recurrently air their feelings of declining mental health and social isolation—from the mental taxation of full-time course loads to bigoted sentiments that are usually kept to oneself. Link spoke to the administrators—BATmin, SADmin and Dadmin—to discuss how they manage the daily influx of secrets.
Can you tell us about the history of BCIT confessions?
B – One cold night in the fall of 2014, one of my long-time friends and I were on the phone complaining about BCIT course loads. We got on the topic of confessions pages and, out of curiosity,
I looked into what BCIT’s confession page situation was. To our collective surprise, BCIT confessions had already been well established in the meme community with an impressive following of 16.
While discouraged, we resolved to achieve the impossible: make another BCIT confessions page and get 17 likes. With enough determination, fake Facebook accounts, and spammed invites to various BCIT students, the page started to gain some momentum. The beginning was definitely a grind, considering we were really only receiving about 1-2 confessions every week at best. We had to get the ball rolling by posting a lot of our own confessions. Honestly, we probably ended up writing the majority of the first 50 or so confessions before we started to get a reasonably steady stream of submissions coming into our inbox.
Once we made it past that initial hurdle, we were able to step back a bit from trying to vigorously grow our presence on campus. Both of us ended up graduating from BCIT in the spring of 2016, but I ended up continuing to manage the page for kicks. This went on for about another year, where we saw major growth on account of the UBC Confessions Vs. SFU Confessions meme war that we inevitably got sucked into. A little after things cooled off from what was a jam-packed summer of tasteful memes, I felt like the time had come to pass the torch on, which is when SADmin and Dadmin joined the team.
It’s been two years since then, and SADmin and Dadmin have done a stellar job expanding the page and creating a sense of community. We’ve already blown past the 5,000-follower milestone and only need 28,000 more followers before we can overtake UBC Confessions! Eyes on the prize.
Can you walk us through the process of sifting through the submissions?
S – We typically check the confession inbox once a day. We review all the submissions we get, then post them daily when we are available. Depending on the time of year, we can get anywhere between 15-20 confessions in a day. During the slower periods, 3-5 confessions a day. We generally post most confessions unless they go against our own guidelines. We sometimes spell check and modify the submissions if we feel the overall sentiment within the submission is within our guidelines.
Where do you draw the line in posting a confession?
S – We try to avoid identifying specific people unless they are a public figure. We also don’t post any confessions where people are being attacked based on race, gender, or religion, nor do we post anything that may involve violence or sexual abuse. However, we can allow some bigoted sentiment for the purpose of discourse and engagement.
D – Damn, SADmin hitting us with the boilerplate PR answer. I try to post everything that seems like a genuine expression that the submitter can’t let out in any other venue; it is a confessions page, after all. I try to never post any forced jokes or obvious troll behaviour. I spend a disproportionate amount of my life online; do you really think I haven’t seen that copypasta before? I grew up playing Counter Strike, so you think I can’t smell a troll from a mile away? Think again partner, because Sheriff BATmin and his posse of memelords ain’t having your low effort “confessions.”
B – I’d like to petition to rename myself as Sheriff BATmin. Thank you, Dadmin.
Is there any social responsibility tied into moderating a confessions page?
S – There is definitely a social responsibility in managing this page. BCIT Confessions is one of the largest social media platforms used by BCIT students and each one of our posts have an outreach of at least 2000-5000 views per day. We do our best to ensure that everyone can engage fairly with our page and ensure that relevant content that is filtered through our guidelines gets posted.
B – I think you’re really underestimating the social grab that BCIT Crushes has, SADmin.
D – I think the only responsibility we have is to not single out any individual or group (aside from Impark).
What are some of the most frequent topics covered by confessors?
S – We tend to see a lot of confessions about BCIT’s shortcomings (inept staff, subpar IT infrastructure, Impark, facility issues) as well as people drowning in projects and assignments.
B – Let’s not forget about the classic “Dear girl I saw that one time on the bus” confessionals.
D – The ones that stick out to me are the ones that are generally about isolation, loneliness and poor mental health.
What were some memorable confessions that you’ve received?
S – Some of my favorite confessions date back to the great meme war between SFU and UBC. #1189 was the one that started it all.
B – I’m with SADmin on this one. I had a good laugh when we got called out by The Ubyssey. Honestly, I was just happy to be included.
D – The most memorable thing I’ve seen wasn’t even a confession. We had a submission that mentioned a notorious figure on campus, where somebody mentioned their first name in the comments section. Over the course of the next few months, this individual used multiple fake Facebook accounts, to try getting our real names. Which doesn’t sound like that funny of a story, but they had absolutely no tact at all and it was hilarious. This person messaged the page and, after many attempts to get me to tell him who my “boss” was, he asked me to prove that I was actually an admin. I guess getting responses directly from the page wasn’t enough evidence for him. Ultimately, I ended up using a fake account a friend had made years ago. That submitter now thinks they know who runs the page, but that person doesn’t actually exist.
B – New stretch goal: 50,000 page likes, and we’ll post the chat logs from that conversation!
What faculties tend to use BCIT confessions the most?
S – The audience tends to change throughout the year. It’s been pretty balanced with all the different faculties. We try to push out content relevant to each faculty where we can, either through material from our confession inbox, or spicy memes.
B – Whenever one faculty would complain about their program being exceedingly difficult, the other faculties would rise to the occasion and start smack-talking that faculty into the ground. RIP CST.
D – Let’s be honest here, Marketing students barely do any work anyway, it makes sense they’re always on the page 🙂
Do you think bcit confessions is an effective tool for students to vent?
S – Yes and No. While we do post most of the confessions in our inbox onto the page, we don’t post traumatic or distressing content on our page. We also avoid posting repetitive content and aim to keep a fresh variety of material.
D – I don’t want to blow a bunch of smoke up our own asses or anything, but I think it can be a pretty effective tool. BCIT is such a unique experience compared to most of the post secondary institutions. The course load, isolation of campus, and lack of cross-pollination between programs can leave people feeling really isolated. Sometimes you need to just scream into the void and see what a bunch of other people going through the same thing have to say.
How do you deal with alarming confessions? (Students posting about failing mental health, suicidal ideation, bigotry, aggression, etc.)
S – Depending on the circumstances, we do our best to provide information about services readily available to students. Students sometimes send their confessions to our Facebook inbox where we can have a conversation with them, share our stories and help them get in touch with services on campus. Unfortunately, some students also message our Google inbox and we don’t have any means of contacting them. We notify staff at BCIT when alarming confessions do come in and take steps to help where we can. It does get challenging and distressing for us when we do get these kinds of confessions. We do our best to act quickly and provide assistance where possible.
Do you think that BCIT is doing enough to tend to students’ mental health and toxic mindsets?
ALL 3 – We don’t think such a thing as “enough” when it comes to helping people who are experiencing mental health issues. Mental Health is a very complex issue and it requires everyone to step in and help wherever they can. BCIT and BCITSA have been creating a network of services that are becoming more and more accessible for students, staff, and alumni to utilize. We always refer these services to people who message our inbox, as well as other counselling and crisis support lines available to people 24/7. More needs to be done, but not just by BCIT. We all need to work together in changing the stigma around mental health. If we’ve helped even a few people reach out to those services, then we’ve done what we can.
How difficult is it to work as SADmin/DADmin/BATmin while having a full course load?
S – It isn’t really that difficult. We just post stuff whenever we are free and usually our schedules are sporadic enough to keep the page going.
B – I found it wasn’t too bad. I would always just manage the page in the middle of lectures like the bad student I am.
D – Luckily there isn’t any urgency in running the page. As long as we post a few times a day and throw a couple zingers in the comments, things don’t really pile up. I’ve seen people put more effort into shopping online during lectures than I do running the page.
After moderating a facebook confessions page, how has it influenced your perception of the bcit community?
D – I don’t think we get a clear picture on the overall BCIT community, but a particular subset who interact with the page on a regular basis. For the most part, just a bunch of overworked and sleep-deprived young adults going through the most stressful period of their lives.