The independent news organization of Duke University

Blog allows students to share frustration, joys

What secrets would you confess to the Duke public if no one could find out it was you?

A new blog started March 19 by junior Deepika Ravi, and supported by organizations across campus, invites students to speak about their fears, secrets and insecurities on its Web site-and promises total anonymity to encourage open confession.

The blog, MeTooCampaign.Blogspot.com, currently features more than 230 posts from students confessing to chronic loneliness, dissatisfaction with Duke's hook-up culture and feelings of failure on a campus of perfectionists.

The majority of students' submissions are intensely personal statements, including entries like "I'm a healthy weight, but on campus I feel obese," "I was raped during study abroad," and "Sometimes I am afraid that being me just isn't enough."

Ravi said the volume of responses on the site in its first weeks shows that students needed an open, honest forum to express such issues for the first time.

Junior Megan Kuhfeld, who recently posted on the site, said she felt she could submit a candid reflection on the blog without having to consider what others might think.

"I liked the idea of being able to say something without other people knowing," she said. "The whole anonymous nature makes it feel like something that people would read, without having [my confession] come back to me."

Other students who have perused the site said they were struck by how many posts echoed the same issues of body image, self-confidence and chronic depression within "this Duke bubble," as one post said.

And although many of the themes are common to both men and women on campus, junior Christen Tingley, co-chair of Students to Unite Duke, which is sponsoring the campaign, noted that the myth of "effortless perfection"-that female students should succeed without struggling-pervades the blog.

The site was inspired by a speech Ravi heard at a leadership conference by Gary Glass, senior coordinator of outreach and developmental programming for Counseling and Psychological Services, which discussed students' mental health and initially referenced the idea of a "Me Too" T-shirt as a joke.

Glass noted in the speech that although many students were willing to support their friends during times of struggle, few were comfortable discussing their own problems.

"I joked that if I ever won the lottery, I would buy T-shirts for all Duke students and have the words "Me Too" printed on them so whenever they were having a rough day or an overwhelming semester, they'd see the shirt and smile at the reminder that they're not alone," Glass wrote in an e-mail.

Early this year, Ravi approached Glass about bringing the idea to life and has since spearheaded the blog and campaign efforts with sponsorship from STUD, CAPS, the Office of Student Affairs, Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, the Academic Resource Center and Residence Life and Housing Services.

Although the "Me Too" submissions site tells students to be open in voicing their reflections, Ravi said comments are censored for offensive or violent content before they are allowed to appear on the blog.

Moderating the posts can prevent what junior Adya Baker, co-chair of STUD, called the "Juicy Campus effect," referring to the gossip site where anonymity often sanctions offensive and derogatory posts.

In contrast, Baker said, "Me Too" uses anonymity in a positive way-to promote a sense of community and understanding among students with similar problems.

Ravi and the STUD co-chairs said the blog marks the beginning of the larger "Me Too" campaign, which will feature more promotional events in coming weeks.

Next year, Ravi said the campaign's leaders hope to expand it to include more face-to-face discussions among students about the issues addressed in the blog. Collaboration with other groups working on similar initiatives, such as the Duke Student Government Committee on Gender and the Duke Social Relationships Project, may be a part of the campaign's future, she added.

Discussion

Share and discuss “Blog allows students to share frustration, joys” on social media.