On Friday, Feb. 22, senior journalism major Anthony Montes revealed on the APU Confessions Facebook page his previously-anonymous identity and also announced the page would be shut down that following Monday at the request of the administration.
Two days earlier on Wednesday, Feb. 20, Montes received an email from Village South Resident Director Greg Dolmage asking to meet in the Residence Life office. At first, Montes thought Dolmage wanted to talk to him about Montes’ recent head injury.
“His exact words were, ‘It has come to our attention after doing some research that you might be in charge of the current Facebook page APU Confessions,'” Montes said. “And I just smiled and laughed and said, ‘Okay so that’s what this conversation is about.’ And I told him, ‘I’m not going to lie to you, that’s me. I run the page.'”
According to Montes, Dolmage said Montes was not in trouble “yet,” but that Montes’ name had been discussed and passed around in the administration.
The Facebook page, created on Jan. 26, had quickly gained popularity on campus. Within a week, it had almost 1,400 ‘likes.’ By the time of its demise on Feb. 25, it had 1,610 likes and 1,743 submitted confessions.
According to Montes, Dolmage said the school considered holding a hearing for Montes. Instead, Dolmage sat down and talked to Montes about his motivations for the page.
“I appreciated that, because I seriously would have flipped out in an angry way if they actually had done that type of thing against me,” Montes said.
According to Montes, Dolmage said, “The school believes the page has run its course and they would like the page down by Monday.”
Montes said he hates censorship and was against taking the page down, but he respected the school’s wishes and did not want to risk his education.
“For people to say that it was my decision to take the page down, or why didn’t I fight them, or why did I give in so easily—look, because I was asked to, and I always do what I’m asked,” Montes said. “That’s just how my parents raised me. I respect authority.”
Montes said many students have told him how the page has helped them either express their problems and then get help or realize that other students are going through similar struggles.
After speaking with Dolmage, Montes decided he had to let the page’s followers know what happened and to be transparent about his identity, just as so many people had been transparent with their problems, albeit anonymously.
“It was my turn to return the favor and say who I was,” Montes said. “I didn’t do it for fame, I didn’t do it for recognition.”
Montes said he would support but not run a petition for the page to come back so the school could see that other students care about the page as well, not just him.
Montes also said he wishes the APU Confessions page could have grown to be as big as the APU Memes Facebook page, which he helps run. The APU Memes page was created over a year ago and has over 2,800 likes.
Despite the page’s abrupt end, Montes said he has no regrets.
“[I learned] to be more understanding, to be more thoughtful, to watch what I say, to be a better friend and to always view things from different perspectives,” Montes said. “I appreciate everybody who sent me something… Those people truly changed my life, in a sense.”
Dolmage declined to be interviewed and instead pointed to Associate Vice President of Student Life Willie Hamlett. Hamlett declined to be interviewed and instead issued a statement to the Clause:
“With the emerging online communities established on social media — numerous cases have demonstrated the destructive nature of anonymous communities or postings, and the potential damage and negativism that can come forward. For example, if you shout “fire” in a movie theater, you can be arrested and held liable for potential damages as it creates a dangerous situation. Having anonymity removes accountability and guidelines that normally help us to think through what should and should not be said. Proverbs 10:19 states, ‘Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.'”