University life can be full of adventures, both academically and leisurely. Whether it’s poor experiences with roommates, opinions on college life or hook-up disasters, some students have been clearing the air on social media about life at Montclair State University.
Montclair State students have been anonymously sharing their university experiences with the student-run Instagram page @montclairstatelit for almost a year.
The owner of @montclairstatelit, who decided to remain anonymous, started the page back in April 2021, after realizing that most Instagram pages associated with the university did not voice the experiences of students.
“No platform really lets the student voice [share] how they really feel which can skew the perceptions of students, making them think Montclair [State] is just this ordinary boring school. It’s much more than that,” the owner said.
Interactions from the owner and confessions from students helped secure a current following of 4,674 people. The page began to gain traction when a little over 1,000 people followed the page, just four days after its start-up.
The owner of the page credits this growth to interactions with the page’s followers and to maintaining a non-biased presence on the platform.
“I knew my marketing strategy would make noise and almost instantly it did,” he said. “I followed people back, liked their posts, interacted like humans do.”
Sumayyah Muhammad, a senior English major, keeps up with the interactions between the owner of the page and the students that comment on posts.
“I initially thought that this would be interesting considering that we’d get to hear the voices of the students and their campus life,” Muhammad said. “I still have these same thoughts, but it’s just really interesting to see everyone interact with one another.”
Anonymous confessions from students also began pouring in during the first week the page was up and running. In the page’s first week alone, over 200 confessions were submitted to the owner of the page.
Rather than use the page for any exploitative reasons, the owner aimed to create a safe space for students to share their experiences with no judgment.
“Having been through many of the obstacles that students faced, I could relate to many of these confessions and give honest advice,” he said. “It didn’t really hit me that people were actually being vulnerable and sharing deep things because I created a space just for that.”
Some students think that certain confessions are submitted by students with malicious intent. Maria Hofmann, a senior journalism major, thinks some confessions can be hurtful to students.
“I think it’s great to have a place students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts on but when students have an open forum like that, it can lead to students using it inappropriately,” Hofmann said. “I’ve seen a lot of posts where I felt like kids were being made fun of. Even though we’re older, it still hurts when students see they’re being talked about.”
The page receives between 50 to 100 anonymous submissions per day. When a submission is selected, it is posted to the page in white font over a black background and quoted by the page, @montclairstatelit.
Despite other student-run confessions pages circulating on Instagram, the owner of @montclairstatelit has decided to stand out in alternative ways.
“Mine differs in many ways, for one it’s straightforward and easily accessible,” he said. “Students know they will get a response. It’s not as colorful and the energy isn’t fake or forced.”
The owner of @montclairstatelit plans to hang up his hat and retire from the page once he graduates. He hopes to pass down the account to another undergraduate student he feels can maintain the standards and integrity of the account.
“My hopes are that this account can be a staple in Montclair [State] history and the tradition can live on,” he said. “I want the account to be passed on and keep living up to what I’ve started.”