The independent student newspaper at Goucher College

Rumor Has It: The Anonymous Student Forums Shaping Campus Culture


On February 2nd, 2024, the Instagram account @gopherconfessions posted an image with a caption that began, “Hey Whores and Whorettes GopherGirl here. Click the link in our bio to submit the finest Gopher Gossip. All Submissions will be kept anonymous. Don’t follow this account if you’re going to get offended easily.” The accompanying image featured two characters from the television show Gossip Girl with their faces obscured by the head of Rowdy, the Goucher mascot. This account would quickly amass over one hundred followers after less than two days of activity, and as of the end of March, this number has tripled. 

These numbers are not insignificant. Goucher’s current enrollment, as listed on the official website, is 1,100 students. This means about a quarter of the student body follows this account–going through the follower list, the vast majority of the followers are current students, not Goucher graduates or curious outside viewers.

“GopherGirl” would go on to prompt its followers to answer the various polls posted on its stories, ones that asked students such opinions as “Which Men Are Worse?” and then providing choices between the men’s sports teams at Goucher. A handful of polls ask who among the students have “hunter eyes” or “doe eyes,” terms that have gained prominence through platforms like TikTok and the beauty and ‘Looksmaxing’ communities. Another one asks “Favorite and Least Favorite Goucher Athletes?” “Who’s relationship would (you) change if (you) could?” They clarified this in a parenthetical, “Aka who would (you) make single.” 

Source: @gopherconfessions Instagram

The account also invited followers to submit names for a poll titled “Smash or Pass?” where the names of students, anonymously submitted by their peers, would have their desirability open to public debate via a ratio of votes. The question of “Smash or Pass” as it is phrased on the poll has been around for years, its earliest instance being recorded through Urban Dictionary in 2010.

Via: @gopherconfessions Instagram

The @gopherconfessions page maintains that all of the submissions made through the Google Form in its bio are completely anonymous, with a screenshot in their profile’s highlights backing up the claim that they cannot see any information on the people who submit. This privacy ensures that students can unburden themselves from even the most complicated or personal secrets without repercussions or prying eyes–as the owner or owners of the account are allegedly still Goucher undergraduates themselves. 

Adjacent to the Instagram page is the app YikYak, an app established in 2013 for college students to communicate anonymously in their local area. Once a student has connected with their school or created an account, they’re able to see a wide range of posts from anyone around their institution. Opening the app, you can see one post from an anonymous Goucher student reading, “Anyone applying to grad school? I need the moral support,” and another one a few posts down that says, “Sun’s out, can’t wait to see my Van Meter crushes looking good”  or “Just overheard someone saying they might be pregnant at the dining hall.” 

One significant difference between YikYak and the Instagram pages run by students is that YikYak discourages using people’s real names and identities when posting. However, the comments under one recent YikYak post that asks “Hottest athlete at Goucher, go” suggests that this rule is not carefully enforced. YikYak in the Towson area also saw a sharp uptick in posts surrounding the devastation and death in Gaza around the fall semester, with many users positioning themselves as anonymous student activists. YikYak has a few recurring categories of posts: Relatable quips about campus life, callouts towards the student body that range from the political to the mundane (i.e. asking people to flush the toilets) gossip, and students who use YikYak as their own personal social media (stream-of-consciousness type humor).

Despite the risks of such forums, there is also a clear desire for students to communicate in such a way. With some digging, a “Goucher Confessions” Facebook page from thirteen years ago was uncovered. 

A WordPress article by “The Blunt Bystander” from 2013 covering the page wrote about the “rise and fall” of Goucher Confessions, chronicling students’ paltry confessions about sex, queer issues, and oftentimes serious criticism of Goucher as an institution. The first YouTube video featured in the article asks students if they know of Goucher Confessions, and students respond with their thoughts and interpretations of the page. The interviewees praise the anonymity of the forum, as well as the “weird” responses it garners. A student in the beginning of the second part of the Goucher Confessions video series says they enjoy “the more controversial stuff about race.” 

Source: The Blunt Bystander

Another student in the same part disagrees, saying conversations about race and gender are how you start “conflict and trouble.” This must have been true in some regard because, as pictured, Goucher Confessions’ last post had them realizing through one of their communications classes that their page was not having a positive impact. Because of this, Goucher Confessions went dormant, and only exists in the article and its linked YouTube videos by the creator.

Source: The Blunt Bystander

Even in 2013, when social media was not quite as ubiquitous as it is now, there was still a niche to be filled when it came to students expressing their most controversial opinions, gripes, and crushes. Students at Goucher want an outlet to express these feelings, and it goes without saying that gossip is inescapable on a college campus, especially one so small and tight-knit.

An anonymous Goucher student who did not wish to be named due to privacy concerns had the following to say about platforms such as YikYak and gossip pages: “There are some people at Goucher who feel the school’s too small, and they want some drama.” “I think everyone has an interest in gossip, but there are ways you can gossip without it being as toxic and harmful as it is.” They deemed the anonymous online posting to be “high school behavior, honestly, it’s very childish,” condemning this type of conduct in a college setting. “We’re all human, we’re all going to participate in gossip at one time or another, but there’s a line.” 

Where there exists a space to cause problems, some people instead choose to use this space to uplift. “GopherGirl” has made an effort to remove itself from a constant stream of negativity, as well. Not only has it run polls that encourage students to provide encouraging words or name “icons” on campus, but many students refuse to give genuinely vitriolic answers to the questions that may begin faceless feuds, such as ones where the account asks who its followers hate. A common sentiment from the replies was that they don’t hate anyone, or that they receive nothing but kindness from their peers. One question on their story asked, “Let’s get some compliments going folks.” As a student body, when given anonymity, Gophers often trend towards positivity–as an example, the thoughtful messages left for dining hall staff on the feedback cards. With the somewhat conflicting tone of the account, the moderators of “GopherGirl’s” account was contacted in order to understand their intentions behind making the account. In response, they gave the following response:

“The GopherConfessions platform aims to encourage individuals to embrace opportunities and live purposefully, while also fostering self-awareness and guiding personal growth. Through insightful reflections on identity and perception, the platform seeks to empower individuals to navigate their paths with confidence and clarity. We recognize that our platform may evoke mixed reactions, including criticism and resentment. However, we aspire to prompt introspection by encouraging individuals to reflect on their own behavior and interactions. Through this lens, we hope to shed light on the prevalence of gossip and negativity in daily life, fostering a culture of self-awareness and empathy within our community. While our school environment may be characterized by gossip, our intention is to channel these dynamics into constructive dialogue and personal growth opportunities.” 

Whether it was fear of backlash, security of the account, or added exclusivity, the Instagram page has since gone private. GopherGirl recently created a post saying that there has been a lack of submitted confessions, explaining their dormancy. 

Sam Rose (he/him) is a Digital Arts and Media Studies Double Major from Catonsville Maryland. Outside of the Quindecim, he is a member of Goucher Chamber Singers as well as an Admissions Ambassador. He enjoys creating art, playing guitar, and spending time with his dogs.

1 Comment

  1. what’s “funny” is they have blocked some students upon creation of the account so half the people they post about can’t see any of it or ask for it to be taken down

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