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Loyola Students Get Anonymous on LUC Love Notes and LUC Secrets

LUC Love Notes’ Facebook cover photo
Artwork by: tenzen888 on deviantART

“Blondegirl: to the guy I talked to at pcos [Pumping Company, a bar near Loyola] last Thursday that said they’ve seen me before at school, who are you? I was in a hurry and I never got your name. I think you have dark hair, and reallly tall. Hit me up anytime (;”

This personal advertisement comes from one of Loyola University Chicago’s trendiest new Facebook pages, LUC Love Notes.

The page is similar to personal advertisements seen in newspapers that are typically listed in the “I Saw You” or “Missed Connections” section.  RedEye Chicago has a section like this; readers who see attractive people in public and are too nervous to speak to them can submit their personals anonymously to a newspaper.  The newspapers then choose a select number of “I Saw You” listings to feature in their newspapers and online each month.

LUC Love Notes is essentially a Facebook-based “I Saw You” section that specifically targets Loyola students.  Founded by Loyola students around Valentine’s Day and unaffiliated with university administration, LUC Love Notes has gained 2,543 Likes as of May 3.

The page’s moderators offer the opportunity for students to send them a Facebook message containing a codename and their love note: a note of affection, forbidden love, sexual desire, or admiration to another student.  The codenames exist to ensure that every post is kept anonymous.  The moderators then review each message, replace the submitter’s name with the codename chosen by the submitter, and post the note.

While this page is fun to look at and talk about, it is important to note the ethical issues behind the manner in which some students post on the page.

“It is not so much that the page itself is unethical as it is that some students utilize the page in an unethical manner,” communication ethics professor Bastiaan Vanacker said.

In particular, Vanacker said he takes issue with the way some students use LUC Love Notes.

“The comments on that page have become a game of ‘let’s find out who this post is about,’” Vanacker said.

Vanacker said that he noticed that students often tag their friends in the comments sections of posts if they think that a certain love note was written about someone they know.  This can reveal the identity of the person to whom the love note was directed if the guess is correct.

According to communication ethics professor Connie Fletcher, tagging recipients in posts can cause love note writers to begin cyber-stalking the person about whom they posted.

Vanacker agrees with this sentiment.  He said that if he were moderating the page, he would ask students not to leave comments that tag posts with links to their friends’ Facebook pages.

“It’s all fun and games until the cover is blown on an unwilling participant,” Vanacker said.

It is more ethical to send a private Facebook message to a friend alerting them of a love note you think could be about him or her.  Fletcher says that while tagging friends in love notes you think are about them might seem like a good idea, you could be opening the door for your friends’ full names to be revealed to people they do not know.  This could cause your friends to have new stalkers if the love notes were, indeed, about them.

“On the surface, it seems kind of nice, but it could be an invasion of privacy,” Fletcher said.  “It’s playing with fire.”

While LUC Love Notes has been too busy to comment on issues surrounding the page, both Ramblers and students whose schools have similar Facebook pages openly discuss these problems.  People are having mixed feelings about “I Saw You” advertisements in college settings.

Ingrid Taller, a senior at University at Albany, SUNY, said her college has an almost identical page to LUC Love Notes called UAlbany Crushes.  Taller, in her article “UAlbany Crushes: Craigslist Sex for Students” on the new feminist blog Bitchtopia, said that pages like this on college campuses can create a sex-positive environment.

“I’m really proud of the way people are able to open up about their sexual wants and needs,” Taller said, giving credit to college students for their “honesty and bravery.”

At the same time, however, Taller said that the option to remain anonymous on pages like UAlbany Crushes and LUC Love Notes opens the door for people to disregard modesty and respect for others.

“It’s creepy,” Taller said.  “There have been some accounts of people saying that they have felt stalked after reading these anonymous submissions.”

Indeed, an account from Loyola freshman Kamila Wisniewska confirms this idea.  A classmate posted a love note about Wisniewska last month, and she found it to be kind of creepy since she knew the person who was writing to her.

Wisniewska added that she, too, thinks LUC Love Notes has some stalker-like content posted on it.

“I do feel like the students being posted about may feel stalked,” Wisniewska said. “Many people are posted about more than once and if that happened to me I would definitely feel that way.”

Taller, in her article, said that one of the reasons for this may be that when overly-sexual posts are made, it can lead to students feeling extreme discomfort.

“Even though this feels like harmless fun on the internet (sic) from a bunch of 18-22 year olds, (it’s) sexual harassment and can lead to a reader feeling objectified and fearful,” Taller said.

Loyola Sophomore Kara Homola said that she feels uncomfortable wearing certain articles of clothing because of LUC Love Notes posts.

“The notes are always about yoga pants,” Homola said.

Homola went on to say that several of the posts she has seen on LUC Love Notes are about girls’ posteriors looking nice in form-fitting bottoms.  She said that this is objectifying and can make Loyola women feel awkward while walking around campus in tight clothing.

Other Loyola students’ negative views of the use of the page come not from the objectification of Loyola students, but from the fact that they wish people would have the courage to talk to people in person.

Senior Sadie Preble said that “hoping someone will read a message of admiration and reach out to you strikes me as something that someone without any courage would do.”

Still, controversy surrounding the use of the page can lead back to how Loyola students behave when posting.

According to Wisniewska, students are posting on this page in mass quantities and in ways excessive to their circumstances.  Wisniewska said that she has seen people posting about studying classmates in the same room as them at the Information Commons (IC).

On any given day, a few of the posts on LUC Love Notes come from students in the IC.  On April 29, for example, three out of 14 love notes were about sightings in the IC.

Students can also be observed viewing the page in public places on campus to see if someone has posted a love note about them.  Loyola freshman William Pierce said this has become a routine practice for many of his friends.

“People check that page all the time because they want to see if someone’s writing about them,” Pierce said.

Pierce’s comment and Wisniewska’s anecdote combined lead to a humorous conclusion: many students want to be written about on LUC Love Notes until someone writes something creepy about them on LUC Love Notes.

LUC Love Notes gained many of its followers through a Facebook promotion on February 12.  The promotion came from another popular student-run page called LUC Secrets.

LUC Secrets, which is affiliated with neither LUC Love Notes nor Loyola’s administrators, lets students speak out anonymously as well.  LUC Secrets is a place for Loyola students to vent and share funny or embarrassing stories, among other things.

The page fares well with students.  LUC Secrets has accumulated 3,416 likes since being founded on December 15, 2012—about one fifth of Loyola’s student population.  While the page has only posted 678 secrets thus far, it receives many more.  Moderators filter out anything that breaks the page’s rules or that they think Loyolans will not find interesting.

LUC Secrets, unlike LUC Love Notes, has more clearly defined ethical standards.

In a post by LUC Secrets on February 6, moderators said that they “would like everyone to try to refrain from the following: bashing Loyola, politics, religion, racism, homophobia, complaining, sappy lack of love, and anything that is not really a secret.”

An anonymous moderator from LUC Secrets—we’ll call him Secrets for short—said that he and the page’s other five moderators refuse to post any content that would fall into these categories; additionally, they will not post any secrets that target a specific individual, according to a disclaimer in the page’s description.

Vanacker said that when he saw LUC Secrets initially, he thought it was going to be a community board for anonymous insults.  He said that he was pleasantly surprised when he saw the page’s disclaimer about never targeting a specific individual.

The worst faults Vanacker could find with the page were “bad taste and bad humor” in certain posts, which he said may deter parents of potential new students.

“Some people may not like having Loyola’s name on this and parents of incoming students may be put off by the school if they are reading things like this.”

Indeed, posts like secret #455, “I just need to find a guy that will (have sex with) me in a bathtub while I eat a taco… any takers for Taco Tub Time?” may be a bit unsettling to parents.

Secrets responded to this assertion by saying this kind of behavior is expected of college students; it’s nothing new or shocking.

Secrets said that he checked Loyola’s acceptable use handbook to see if the page’s content could get any of the moderators in trouble; so far, the page is in the clear, and Loyola administration has not reprimanded the moderators for creating the page.

LUC Secrets gives an option that LUC Love Notes does not: LUC Secrets allows students to submit via anonymous e-mail addresses and keep their identities secret to everyone, including moderators.  According to Secrets, however, many students choose simply to message the page directly via Facebook, even though it compromises their identity to the moderators.

Moderators have a strict ethical code never to reveal the names of people behind any submissions—not even to their close friends, Secrets said.

Secrets did say that he sometimes felt a little uneasy reading secrets sent by people he knows, but he never tells them that he has read their secrets.  He also said that knowing secrets from so many random strangers on campus gives him a strange feeling.

“It’s a lot of power to have,” Secrets said.  “It’s kind of weird, actually.”

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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.