NYU does not have a tight-knit community, and is not particularly designed for one. The sense of a campus is sacrificed for location, which offers boundless entertainment as well as internship and job opportunities. Students go about their lives without wondering about the other 40,000 people, emitting blank stares as they pass from class to class. Many college students worry about missing out on typical experiences, but this fear is particularly prominent at NYU, where Greek Life is small and the student body overwhelmingly large. The only sense of community at NYU is a unanimous agreement that there is none.
This is where NYU Secrets comes in. The popular Facebook page aims to fight the sense of isolation that so many NYU students feel throughout their time at the New York campus. Personal barriers are dissipated online in exchange for anonymity. People spill their thoughts and secrets, things they would never say aloud under normal circumstances. This forum, stripped of the political correctness, personal judgement and repercussions of the real world, allows people to be open in a way they never would be in public.
This page has become a perfect storm of anonymity, creating a platform for opinions in a community looking to voice their feelings without worrying about the consequences. The ubiquity of NYU Secrets means that tens of thousands of people see any secret posted on the page.
NYU Secrets is not perfect, but that’s what makes it genuine. It lacks the fluff of Welcome Week’s forced, easily mockable spirit or any of the political correctness that comes with liberal leanings. It has trolls and instigators that know just what buttons to push, as most websites do. It also has real, heartfelt confessions. Whether they are stories of unrequited love, suicidal thoughts or tales of bad days, these confessions can make people feel like they are not alone in their troubles. Accompanying the rants about NYU 2031 and John Sexton are shoutouts to people who did good deeds. The page posts a wide range of political opinions, and through Ferguson, Eric Garner, the Bobst die-in, ISIS and Charlie Hebdo, it offered a set of reactions just as diverse as the student body.
NYU Secrets gives a voice to the 40,000 students who would otherwise go unheard due to NYU’s fragmented nature. Comments on the page can be hurtful, but the imperfections on the page are preferable to a complete lack of NYU community. The page certainly does not offer the perfect community, but if it appeared to do so then it would be offering a false representation. Founder Aristo Orginos may be ready to retire, but he has made the right choice to pass the torch by endorsing a new page and continue fostering an NYU community.
A version of this article appeared in the Feb. 9 print edition. Email Matthew Tessler at [email protected]