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Image courtesy of NYUAD Confessions Facebook Page and Maria Vogel

Confessions of the NYUAD Confessions Page Admin: Part 2

Through its exposure of students' senses of humor, hopes, fears and struggles, Confessions humanizes the university more than any marketing material ever could.

During my first year at NYU Abu Dhabi I wrote "Confessions of the NYUAD Confessions Page Admin," which consisted of an interview with the admins of the infamous NYUAD Confessions Page. As an alumna, I admit that the piece was actually partially a self-interview, as I was one of the admins of the page at the time, a role I held until I graduated. I would like to preface this piece by stating that the thoughts shared below are my own and not related to anybody else who has been involved in managing the page.
For those not familiar with the page, simply known as Confessions, it provides an outlet for members of the NYUAD community to share their thoughts about the university through an anonymous submission form. These submissions are then publicly posted on the Facebook page, at the admins' discretion. This discretion has been a topic of debate throughout the years, with the management of the page being accused of both overly and insufficiently censoring the posts. Did I make mistakes when judging what should or should not be posted? Yes. But I believe that throughout my years as admin I grew as a person and a member of the community, and the page grew along with me. I strove to make sure the page reflected multiple facets of the student body: the funny, the critical, the supportive, the desperate, the weird and sometimes also the sad and the ugly.
Confessions is not another marketing tool, so I decided to leave the picture perfect, squeaky clean portrayal of the university to Admissions and instead focus on providing a more holistic view of our community. And yes, there are some amazing people doing amazing things on our campus. There are kind people. There are compassionate people. But with students coming from over 120 countries, there are bound to be some bad apples in the bunch. Or at least apples who never knew better. And I hope that this page has helped people learn and start conversations they would be afraid to in-person for fear of judgment and exclusion.
Despite the page existing solely as an online platform, given its reach of several thousand within a campus with only a few hundred students per class, some of its posts have had repercussions in real life. They have raised concerns regarding unannounced new regulations being imposed on campus and have helped further conversations around more sensitive topics such as mental health and sexual harassment. Should these have been discussed in a private forum instead, accessible only to students? Perhaps, and part of our discussions around these topics did indeed happen in private groups, both online and in-person. However, I believe that the fact that these conversations were partially happening in such a public environment led to more immediate attention and action from staff and faculty.
Being a U.S. university on a desert island in the Middle East, we are in a position that is unique and difficult to relate to, which is why prospective applicants should also have access to these conversations. And I call them conversations because Confessions is not only about the anonymous posts. It is also about the reactions and comment sections underneath each one, where students and sometimes even faculty and staff jump in to either support or invalidate the arguments presented in the posts, both tactfully and humorously. As I approached my first semester at NYUAD, I was intrigued by the conversations happening on the page, and couldn’t wait to become a part of the community. Throughout my time at the university, it gave me the chance to talk to students — former, current and incoming — that I might have otherwise not interacted with.
Through its exposure of students' senses of humor and their hopes, fears and struggles, Confessions humanizes the university and reflects more of its spirit than any marketing material ever could.
Paula Valentina Dozsa is a contributing writer. Email her at
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