For Indian Institute of Technology-Madras students, what began as a fun medium to vent amidst a stressful exam season, has acquired a life of its own, attracting quite a bit of scrutiny even outside the institution.
IIT Madras Confessions, a Facebook page is the in thing just now, with over 500 ‘confessions’ made by students on various experiences they have had on campus.
From pranks played on professors and experiences of staying away from home to a range of comments, some of them unpleasant, on women students, the page is a melting pot of posts.
But since all of them are anonymous, students say it is difficult to tell the fakes ones from the genuine ones.
“They are not meant to be taken seriously. The page allows students to submit anonymously, stories they needed to get off their chests, but don’t want to be judged for. Our confessions page was an offshoot of the IIT confessions Facebook page started a week ago. The likes for that page went from 20 to 20,000 in just about a day, and soon, each IIT had its own pages,” explains an IIT-M student.
Most well-known universities abroad too have their own confession pages. IIT-M’s page is run by a group of students, whose identities are unknown to most on campus.
“Initially, there was a lot of disturbing content, mostly sexist remarks about girls, but now that the page is being moderated, it is better. Also, you can take back a confession if you feel it is creating an unwanted furore,” said another student.
But the page is not just a collection of quirky, awkward, and funny anecdotes.
A post by a student claiming to belong to the reserved category painted a stark picture of the discrimination many students like him face on campus.
The post says, “When I got the seat my family celebrated. I was unaware of the repercussions I’ll be facing once I cross the IIT gates. Some of my batch mates debated how they couldn’t get a better branch but a reserved guy got it because of this unequal system…”
The post sparked off a lively discussion on issues such as reservation and merit. A few posts on experiences of gay students too were liked and shared by many.
“Some of the posts are very good because we seldom talk about a lot of issues here,” said a student.
He, however also pointed out that there was darker side to this activity too, as many of the posts that dealt with issues of unrequited love, proposals and sex were embarrassing and even, threatening to many.
“Some posts were very open and the person mentioned in them was identifiable too. That made many students uncomfortable. This has also paved way for an IIT-M ‘proposals’ page which is far more invasive of students’ privacy,” he said.
The constant demand for success and the resultant pressure is another commonly-discussed subject.
A post on how students “crammed a lot to crack JEE and are still cramming to satisfy their recruiters’ expectations,” typified the issue. With over 500 confessions and in all likelihood, even more submissions, the page, say students is bound to grow and gain more of a following. But there are also those who don’t really take it seriously.
“It is addictive but it is just entertainment. Also, we think it is a fad that will die soon. We have had such interesting pages earlier too — IIT tips and IIT memes for instance. But people soon lose interest and move on to the next rage,” said another student.