The best-kept secret of the EUR confessions Facebook page: who is actually behind it? There are now more than 500 confessions on the page, but who actually selects and posts them online? And more importantly, what kind of things don’t make it past the selection committee? Time to find out!
They’re sat in the Smitse, their ‘favourite place on campus’. Jan Hagen, with his dark beard and dark eyes, and Selma Rana, with her bouncy curls and large eyes, previously studied Sociology at EUR and now live in Antwerp. They are currently busy working on their start-up, ‘Busje Delen’ (Share-a-Bus). Jan explains: “We use the word ‘bus’, but they’re actually coaches that we use to take people to and from festivals throughout the Netherlands.”
“I’ve never actually been in it.”
It’s been a while since they graduated from EUR. The Polak building, one of the biggest inspirations for EUR confessions, hadn’t even been constructed when Selma and Jan studied here. Jan chuckles: “I’ve never actually been in it.”
The two met through the student association Cedo Nulli, and have had a relationship ever since. When they were students, the Smitse was their favourite bar, but they still come here often with university friends. Selma smiles: “Three years later and we are famous at EUR, who would have thought it?”
Which is your favourite confession?
Both pause for a moment. Selma: “We’ve really thought hard about that.” Then Jan adds: “the one that really tickled me was a confession from a lecturer who said he failed lazy students because they’d be too lazy to bother showing up at the inspection. I think I know which lecturer it was, which makes it extra juicy. That was in the early days of EUR confessions, and we had invited the lecturer to like the page.”
How did you come up with the idea to start the page?
Selma: “It was during the examination period of our master degree in Belgium. Exactly two years ago, so it’s another reason to celebrate – alongside reaching the 500th confession. We were no longer EUR students. I studied at the University of Ghent; there was a similar page there which was doing really well. We saw that EUR didn’t have one yet.”
“I even made some up to keep the page going.”
John confesses: “So we actually copied it from Belgium. In the beginning, we really promoted it among friends to get them to like it and post confessions. That obviously then appeared on other people’s timelines and increased the number of likes for our page.” Selma: “There’s always a lot of activity on the page during the examination period, when people are procrastinating.”
So you can’t see who has submitted a confession, then?
Selma: “No, definitely not. It’s completely anonymous.”
Do you post all of the confessions you get on Facebook?
Jan: “At first we did, partly because we received so few. I even made some up to keep the page going. Now, we don’t post everything – far from it. I think around a fifth or a sixth of everything that comes in. The most important thing is that I think it’s funny, or that I think others will think it’s funny. I’m not a fan of toilet humour, so I don’t like to post anything like that. Now the page has been running for a while, you see that people submit confessions that have already been posted; obviously we don’t post those, either.” Selma: “And just confessions about the Polak building gets a bit boring, so we try to post a selection of confessions.”
Have you received confessions which really go too far?
Jan: “Not really. Sometimes I think to myself: can I actually post this? But it usually takes a lot to offend me. People should be able to bitch about each other a bit.” Selma: “Once, we posted a video of a drunk guy at a student association here in Rotterdam. Then we got a message from someone saying that it was a bit unfair on him.” Jan: “I understood where that person was coming from, so we removed the video from the page.”
Do you have any tips for a really successful EUR confession?
Jan: “An important factor is that the confession affects a lot of people; something about current events or about the campus. We recently posted one about the taps in the toilet in the Polak building. Everyone probably thinks: ‘Jesus, how annoying.’
“People should be able to bitch about each other a bit.”
Bashing other studies also works very well.” Selma: “That was something we never saw in Belgium. There, people mainly posted funny anecdotes, and here, such a Facebook page is a place where people can mock each other, though it’s never personal. Funny how it works differently.”
And now towards the 1000th EUR confession?
Selma: “We will continue to post the confessions as long as people like it. But I think it will probably follow the fate of all hypes: people find it very interesting for a while, until they move on to something new. When we were EUR students, you had the Facebook page ‘EUR memes’ or ‘spotted@EUR’. You don’t hear much about those anymore.”