Confessions: Uncouth or Cool?

So you had sex at the back of the Rat and Parrot, simultaneously cheating on your girlfriend/boyfriend with an audience of twenty or more people watching.

Who on earth could you confide in about your illicit and yet succulent secret? Surely keeping quiet about your forbidden exploitations has been eating you alive on the inside?


Fear not! The Rhodes Confessions Page on Facebook is here to save the day (and thousands of hapless students from boredom). Finally you have licence to post about absolutely anything you desire. This can range from pure drivel (including spelling or grammatical errors) to vulgarity, profanity and feelings of growing inferiority.


You are at liberty to describe in vivid detail your worst hour and expose all your flaws for the entire world to read. An added perk is that you will remain totally anonymous. The act of confession has always been one that was said to provide catharsis, especially in the Catholic doctrine. Penance was used as a means to repent or atone for sins committed against God to receive pardon and simultaneously be reconciled with the church.


However, unlike asking for forgiveness in a cathedral from God, confessors here are given advice that is sometimes very judgemental and critical. ‘The whole point of the confessions page is that it is a platform where students can express themselves without facing condemnation,” stated Cara Ribeiro, a first-year Journalism student.


This has become a popular tool for students to utilise to inform people of the incidents they have participated in without revealing their true selves. With just over 14, 400 likes, it is apparent that the page is something that has sparked a massive response in students across the board.


While the site is mostly concerned with students who are currently studying at Rhodes University, visitors from other tertiary academies do occasionally comment on stories. This is an indication of how epic (and perhaps a tad bizarre) our adventures are here.


But what sort of image does this portray of our university academically? Rhodes is renowned for its excellent results and educational successes. When asked what they thought the impression other institutions got from this page, an anonymous source said that “Of the worst image. People usually confess the bad things because those are the most juicy stories and therefore most likely to get the attention. So outsiders assume that the terrible things are the norm when they aren’t.”


Every university has students who party hard but Rhodes is also especially notorious for its excessive alcoholism. According to Vivian de Klerk (Dean of Students) and Charles Young, who wrote a report on the patterns of alcoholism at Rhodes University in 2007, just under 90% of the 2049 students who participated in the survey, consumed alcohol either occasionally or excessively. It is highly probable that this has increased in the past few years.


The tales uploaded are sometimes quite shocking and depict Rhodes as an institution of insidious indulgences rather than that of where intellectuals are bred.

This isn’t an accurate summation because Rhodes seems to be pretty well-balanced when it comes to work and play. How else would we have acquired such a grand academic reputation? According to 4international Colleges & Universities, Rhodes placed 8th out of the 23 universities in South Africa.


It is fascinating to learn how people have succeeded in getting away with flagrant rule-breaking like managing to attain a DP certificate without attending a single tutorial the entire year.


But the page isn’t merely a stage to relinquish your darkest desires as though you are dramatic protagonists in a Shakespearean play. Some people post about the good things they have experienced here at Rhodes or question why certain things are the way they are.


A survey I performed showed that out of the 45 candidates that answered, 15 said that they liked the page because found it amusing or funny. Only 17.78% said they did not follow the Confession page at all.


However, sometimes you have to wonder why so many feel the need to share every infinitesimal detail of their personal lives like Rhodes Confession 4728, “I promise I’m not rude, just awkward.”


I suppose you could argue that it is your own prerogative to click on that friendly blue icon that says ‘like’ and therefore whether you access the feeds or not is completely up to you.


Is it uncouth to share your sexual or personal encounters notwithstanding the fact that your identity it concealed? Or is it cool to brag about them? The decision is yours to make.




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