CCNY’s greatest current celebrity is, oddly enough, an unknown entity. From City College’s perpetual dysfunctions to the student body’s collective relationship struggles, we’ve enjoyed the opportunity to pry into the lives and grievances of our peers through CCNY Secrets. The Campus had a unique opportunity to get to know the CCNY Secrets Facebook admin and the forces keeping the notorious page alive, on the condition of keeping this remarkable gatekeeper’s identity anonymous.
You run an incredibly successful college secrets page. Did you ever anticipate it being as popular as it is? NYU Secrets has since been shut down, Hunter has gained a daunting reputation, but City continues to grow in popularity. How do you do it?
When this page first started, I definitely did not expect for it to grow any larger than 1,000 followers because I half expected myself to quit sometime down the line – but it’s been too fun. There really isn’t much of a formula to running the page and generating likes, but I have noticed that uplifting and motivational secrets tend to be well-liked by the community. Funny memes and images also generate a lot of likes and comments, so those are always good. I don’t know. Some days I get really crummy secrets, so I put up the least bland ones and some days I get some grade A stuff that makes my life easy. It really depends.
Did you start the page yourself or inherit it? What made you want to admin such a major undertaking?
A close friend of mine and I ran into NYU Secrets nearing the end of the Fall term of 2012. We thought that if we made one for CCNY we would be able to make money off of it somehow, but of course the money thing never happened. My friend was administrator alongside me for a few weeks, but became inactive because of academic and personal reasons. Soon it was just me at the helm, starting around February 2013. Honestly, I just wanted to be part of something bigger. My friend and I figured that this page would give us a purpose, to provide us something to do and for the most part it did. It gets a little frustrating and tiresome sometimes, but it’s generally nice running a page like this.
Out of all the submissions you get, what percentage would you say actually go up on the page? What gets a secret posted versus tossed aside?
50% of the secrets that are submitted will end up being posted. I really cannot stand secrets that have to do with relationship issues because they’re all so cliché, but sadly they’re the most popular. I still put them up from time to time because it’s just so hard ignoring everybody. Some of the submitters can complain and beg for days for me to put a secret up and when I do, it ends up receiving a single like and a comment that’s along the lines of “get over it”. How many times do people want to see that type of secret anyway? I have to remind people over and over that this isn’t an advice page.
Is it stressful to balance such a high-traffic page with school and whatever else you have going on in your life?
Not really. In fact, I neglect the page a lot more over summer and winter breaks than I do during the school term. I try not to take my position as administrator too seriously. Just another thing to do as I’m sitting on the toilet.
Does anyone at City College know your real identity, or is your secret completely under wraps even from your closest friends?
A lot of my close friends know that I am the administrator. I guess they’re pretty good friends if they still haven’t spilled the beans yet. Seems like it’s time to treat them all to dinner soon.
What was your most memorable submission? Do people actually submit secrets of themselves as often as they’re accused of doing it?
There have been a few memorable submissions. There was this one person who submitted a first-hand account of what happened at the Bursar when a student pulled a gun from his bag and threatened to use it. That was pretty real. Another submission was during the snowstorm last year around February. Someone submitted a photo of a student on campus walking around in skis. Definitely the funniest thing I’ve ever woken up to. To answer the second question, yes, people really do submit secrets about themselves all the time. The best thing about it is that they get really aggressive when I ignore them.
What have you learned about the student body from running an anonymous submission page?
Running the page helped reinforce the idea that everyone is dealing with something in their lives. Also, people are horny. Very horny.
City College’s students appear to be pretty hostile in the comments. Does this affect your faith in the student body, or are there enough redeeming commenters?
Yeah, I notice the same trolls over and over again in the comments, but what can you do? Ban one and you get called out for being a tyrant. Leave them and you get called out for being a shitty administrator. I’ve learned that being an authority figure of any type is hard as balls. Which choice is the right choice? Anyway, there are a good amount of positive commenters so there’s that. They’re the ones that allow me to sleep at night.
I understand you point really troubled submitters to appropriate help resources whenever possible – for example depressed students struggling with suicidal thoughts. Does it weigh down on you to know about all the suffering students? Is there anything City College’s students, faculty or administration should do differently to prevent these cases?
Yes. Stuff like that actually affects me quite a bit. In fact, September of last term, I received a really depressing secret and I felt completely helpless so I put it up on the page so other people could try and help. Someone then commented that it’s best if we all just gave the OP links and telephone numbers to mental healthcare professionals instead of chiming in with our own words of advice. So you know, I was trying to do the right thing by posting the secret up, but then I’m told it was the wrong thing. That stuff truly bothers me. After that incident I appointed two co-administrators for the page, people that have asked me for that position before. I revealed my identity to them and gave them permission to access the page and for weeks they did an amazing job. One had to leave because of personal reasons, and the other continued until very recently, again because of personal reasons. So for the past week I’ve been at it again, manning the page by myself until my trusty co-administrator can come back. The whole point of me stepping away was so I didn’t have to feel responsible for secrets anymore. I didn’t want to be a person’s last contact before they took their own life. The thought of that drove me nuts. To answer the second half of this question, people should just treat everyone with kindness. If people felt accepted every single day of their lives I’m sure half the personal problems we all face would no longer exist. But what do I know?
What would be your one main message to the CCNY student body, based on what you know as the Secrets admin?
There’s more to life than what happens during your years in college. Take everything in stride and just keep moving forward. Also, watch out for bed bugs in the NAC Library!