*The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect ZU Media’s stance*
In the post-COVID era, a controversial Instagram account seeks to revive the APU community
Azusa Pacific University, like many other institutions of higher learning, was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. A massive interruption of the APU way of life occurred as a result of such an unanticipated and unprecedented event. While it may seem like the whole ordeal is in the past, the societal consequences of the “shut down” and “stay-at-home” culture are indeed still with us today.
Many clubs that took a hiatus upon the implementation of the COVID-19 protocols were never reestablished upon the resumption of on-campus activities. The lack of communal activity in general meant that many had gained a certain degree of “social awkwardness” no longer prompting them to gather as much as they once had whether it be at APU or during their high school years.
Additionally, and more controversially, the introduction of “takeaway meals” at APU dining facilities further disincentivized the practice of eating together with it being more convenient for many to simply “grab and go.”
The aforementioned are merely a few of a combination of factors that led to the current state of the community at APU. While there is indeed an ongoing push to rekindle the flame of togetherness at APU from players such as Campus Life regularly organizing events, to the foundation of interest and academic clubs alike, an overall sense of disgruntledness among the APU student body has remained.
What we are all currently experiencing at APU are the growing pains of a new era. The fact of the matter is that we are simply not as fortunate as our predecessors who were more easily able to integrate themselves into a fully functional societal system. That machine almost completely stopped as a result of COVID-19 and is currently being reconstructed by a new generation of students who never had the luxury of being a part of it.
What I am trying to say is that it is not only the school’s responsibility but our own in trying to revive the APU community.
Approximately two months ago, on September 17, an APU student effectively took it upon himself to try and connect the online APU community with the advent of a page called “Azusa Confessions” with the username @azusaxconfessions. Through the mass following of students at APU, including yours truly on Instagram, the page quickly gained hundreds of followers and today stands at a respectable 800+ followers and counting.
While that may seem to be minuscule compared to APU’s overall student body which stands at around 7,000, its cultural impact has already taken root on campus even outside the sphere of the internet. In my day-to-day life, I have had several fellow students mention some of the confessions, complaints, praises, and scandals that are posted on the account.
When asked to comment on the recent controversy surrounding his page, the primary and sole admin of “Azusa Confessions” was friendly and compliant in answering the following questions.
Rami: What inspired you to make this account?
Azusa Confessions: Memes in general! I used to run a huge meme account from like 2017-2020 that had over 200k followers. When I got to APU I thought it’d be cool to make a meme page and also hear funny stuff from the students here. The page ended up becoming a community where the students express themselves.
Rami: Do you feel like your account has helped unite or further divide the APU community? And what would your response to criticisms be?
Azusa Confessions: The net page isn’t perfect, however, I believe that it is overall a net positive and has united more than divided students. So many people relate with some of the funny stuff going on on-campus, relate to liking the same professors, etc. My response to criticisms would be to “lighten up!” If there is an issue with the page or how I run it, I invite anyone for a conversation in good faith where I am willing to hear them out. I have an open-door policy.
Rami: What have most of the confession entries on your page been like? Mostly positive? Negative?
Azusa Confessions: It’s been a mixture of both. People have had complaints about the school while others (sometimes the same people) have praised things about the school.
Rami: Do you repost all confessions, or do you have certain criteria for what can or cannot be reposted?
Azusa Confessions: Nothing too crazy, no violence or blatant disrespect towards another student by name or anything like that. I post MOST submissions, but I do reject the crazy ones that are too raw and insane to post.
Why having a Confessions Page is Good For APU
Confessions pages in college communities have emerged as a digital forum that celebrates the spirit of young adulthood, especially as it pertains to Gen Z or “internet” culture fostering an environment of open expression. These platforms offer a unique space for students to share their thoughts, experiences, and opinions—even if they are sometimes rather unorthodox or taboo—in a manner that reflects the diversity of perspectives among young adults. By providing anonymity, these pages become a sanctuary where individuals feel comfortable disclosing personal anecdotes, complaints or even questions without fear of reproach.
Anonymity on these platforms serves a dual purpose. Firstly, it safeguards against targeted harassment, ensuring that students can freely express their grievances or opinions without fear of a targeted negative response. This also does not mean that the students are given completely free reign, as the admin of AzusaxConfessions does indeed take it upon himself to at least conservatively moderate what comes out of his page. This protective veil of anonymity promotes a sense of confidentiality, enabling individuals to share their thoughts openly. Secondly, it encourages unfiltered dialogue, granting a voice to those who might feel uncomfortable or hesitant in directly addressing concerns or grievances with student authorities such as the SGA where students are often advised to go to but might not always be comfortable doing so.
The sort of unconventional yet accessible forum provided by the Confessions page allows for the conveying of much that might otherwise go unheard in formal channels, contributing to a more representative and all-encompassing discourse at Azusa Pacific University.
Many students at APU have also had a largely positive reaction to the Confessions page’s antics. When asked how he felt about the “Azusa Confessions” page, Benjamin, a sophomore at APU had this to say: “I feel like it’s a necessary evil… hypocrisy is now a lifestyle. Please the crowd, be nice, smile. Relationships are held together by lies because the truth hurts. I’d argue not even one person knows the true self of another. The page is necessary for truth… it is a necessary evil.”
While Benjamin’s response to the page might not necessarily have been a perspective that I would have considered, it is a perspective nonetheless, and admittedly it may be shared by many from both a positive and negative perspective.
It is well known that APU prides itself on being a community of future Christian leaders who wear the motto “God First” as a badge of honor. That being said, some of the less savory and more “ungodly” confessions shared on the “Azusa Confessions” page might bring that insignia into question. On that note, it is even suspected by some that the Confessions page was at least partially the subject of a sermon during one of the chapel events albeit in a negative and condemning manner.
While the “Azusa Confessions” Instagram page may at first glance seem like a silly gag for students to vent on, I see it as being something much more than that. It is a window into the diverse perspectives of countless APU students, it is a voice for those impassioned ones who would prefer to be anonymous, it has even on several occasions been used to promote events or venues on campus whether they be official or unofficial further fostering community on APU.
Read another take on Azusa Confessions here.