Remember the HRC Squirrel? He’s a Georgetown Student

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In a summer full of hard news, one less serious story managed to get the media’s attention. During Hillary Clinton’s book tour for “Hard Choices,” a giant orange squirrel followed her and the Ready for Hillary bus to share its message that “Another Clinton in the White House is nuts!”

That squirrel was none other than Justin G. (COL ’15), a senior at Georgetown who interned at the Republican National Committee this summer.

Justin, who asked not to use his last name because he didn’t have permission from the RNC, where he is still interning, began his summer as a press intern in the committee’s Eisenhower Internship Program. A government major with minors in economics and Chinese, Justin worked with the RNC’s Asian/Pacific-American press staffer, compiling news clips from Chinese language news sources every morning.

A week into his internship, Justin, 21, also became the RNC’s resident squirrel, complete with his own Twitter account (@HRCSquirrel). The squirrel and its handlers showed up at four of Hillary’s book tour stops, and though the suit hasn’t made an appearance in over a month, it’s still inundated with requests for appearances at local GOP events.

Back at Georgetown this semester, Justin’s not sure if the squirrel will return, but he did share the highlights of wearing a squirrel suit during the D.C. summer and stalking Hillary.

When did you start the squirrel part of the job?

About a week in. They told us they wanted to do this media thing because Hillary was starting her book tour and they had a giant squirrel suit and they wanted one of us to wear it. I half-volunteered, half-was volunteered by the other interns. After a week I guess they’d already pegged me as the guy to be in the squirrel suit, and I think the staff had too. Also, there were only three guys, and one guy was too small, one guy was probably a little too talkative, so I think I fit the mold pretty well.

So they had the suit lying around? Had they used it before?

They used it in 2008 for something called the ACORN voter scandal. It was called ACORN, so we got the squirrel suit, and then they had it lying around in the communications director’s basement for six years. I don’t think it had been cleaned.

Did you clean it?

I febrezed it pretty thoroughly. I spent about two days febrezeing the suit and I’m not sure if it helped.

Walk me through a day in the life of a squirrel.

There were very few opportunities to do it. That only happened a couple times. First thing I usually do when I get to the office is find the Chinese language news clips for my staffer. There’s a meeting at 9 a.m. where everyone runs through what they’re going to do in the day. I hang around, work on whatever tasks they’re going to give me and then whenever it was time to do my squirrel event, throw my costume in a big trash bag, throw it over my shoulder and go wherever we needed to go. Either I’d take it there or I’d put it on in the office and take a taxi or an Uber there. That happened a few times where I’d walk out of the office in the suit, hop into an Uber and take the head off because that thing is obnoxiously hot and really hard to breathe in.

One time a local newspaper, the National Journal, was doing a giveaway. They hired a food truck to give away chicken and waffles in the morning, right outside our office, so there was a line down the block right outside. So impromptu in the middle of the day they had me get up throw on a suit, get some chicken and waffles as the squirrel. That’s a really short thing we did. The longer events it’d be going out, standing out for however long I had to be there having my handlers with me hand out flyers and bumper stickers, and then head back to the office.

What did your family and friends think when they found out you were the squirrel?

From my parents, it was very interesting — they wanted it to be anonymous, totally anonymous. It hasn’t worked out as much as they planned because it’s on my resume, it’s now on my LinkedIn. It is places that label me as that. My mom is a Democrat, leans Democrat. My dad leans Republican. They both wanted it to be relatively anonymous, but my mom came around to it once Hillary got out of the car, gave me the book, tried to talk to me a little bit. My mom thought it was a little bit cooler after I told her I had shaken Hillary Clinton’s hand.


More ABC news videos | ABC Entertainment News

How was all the media attention?

There was really none on me because it was pretty anonymous. Once stories started breaking, in particular after “The Colbert Report” did something about it, most of my friends put two and two together pretty quickly that an RNC intern named Justin was in a squirrel suit. There really wasn’t any media attention on me per say. Had anyone really wanted to find out it wouldn’t be that hard, but it wasn’t that much. It was interesting because people were like, “Wow, you’re a local celebrity.” I wear a squirrel suit — that’s not anything really special.

What reaction did you get at the Hillary events?

It depended on the event. For example, the first event we did was a GW book reading. She read some clips of her book and then took questions from the audience about the book. That was mostly people who didn’t get it, didn’t get the joke or were pissed off about it. At that event there was one senior lady who was in a wheelchair who was up on the stairs into the auditorium — I was on the ground level — who started yelling at me from across the crowd. There was a huge line in between us, and she told me she would come kick my ass if I went up there. I didn’t really know how to react to that so I just kind of ran away.

The Ready for Hillary people were fantastic, which was very interesting. Some were turned off by it, but some were like, “Wow, this is kind of funny.” They at least pretended to be glad we were out there showing a different point of view.

The most interesting one was the Costco event, which was probably three hours long, which was pretty brutal in the suit. She was doing book signings at Costco in Crystal City, and most people there, it went way over their heads, like, “That’s awesome, we’re nuts for Hillary too!” and we didn’t really know what to say to them so we just kind of went, “yeah!” People everywhere, there are always people who are pissed off basically, who thought it was childish and a waste of money. Granted, we ended up making a significant amount of money on that campaign. We ended up selling bumper stickers and we only bought five shirts, and they actually made a solid chunk of money since they already had the suit.

My favorite were the calls we would get after this started to break. People would say, “I refuse to give any more money to the Republican Party until the suit and the intern in it both burn.” Most people just ignored it or ignored me. Some people were very hostile.

Did you talk at all in the suit?

I did once. If you watch the video where Hillary comes up and talks to me, it’s interesting because I’m pretty convinced she had a mike on and they were trying to get me to say something. If you watch the video, her voice is very clear. There are sirens and noise going on — it’s in the middle of D.C., there’s street noises — but her voice is very clear. I didn’t say anything that time. The one time I did say something was at the Costco event, a couple Chinese tourists came up to me and wanted to take a picture. I heard them speaking Chinese before. After we took a picture, I thanked them in Chinese, and they were very confused and kind of flabbergasted as to what was going on. I actually had a little conversation with them. They wanted to know if I spoke Chinese, who was I? I was like, “Oh, I’m a student,” stuff like that. It took them a little while to come back and ask me if I actually spoke Chinese — they were just trying to figure it out, if I’d actually said what they thought I said.

Can you tell me a little bit more about meeting Hillary?

It was a very classy move on her part. We all agreed on that. Honestly, it was a shock to all of us, no one expected that. The first story said it’s an intern in a squirrel suit — who cares, it’s another D.C. summer intern, who really cares what he thinks, what he’s doing, this is just a media stunt. We were waiting for her to pull in and our spokesperson was like, “All I want you to do is wave at the car, be really happy, jovial to see her.” The car turns the corner and stops, and we were like, “What’s going on? Is she just getting out and walking in? That’s fine, gives me more time to wave to her.” Secret Service pour out of the car, which is kind of intimidating in and of itself, especially when then Hillary gets out and then makes a beeline for you. She was very nice, very sweet. She just said, “Hello, Mr. Squirrel, I hear you’ve been following me around. I just wanted to make sure you got a copy of my book and I hope you make the hard choice to read it.” She gave me the book.

People in the office were very happy I didn’t throw it down or be obnoxious to her at all. I just figured she’s a very high profile, important person, regardless of political views she’s a very powerful individual and deserves a significant amount of respect. I took it — I would have thanked her, but I did my best with hand motions to thank her. I made sure I didn’t let her leave before she shook my hand. In the video, it kind of looks like she turns around to leave and I kind of stick my hand out in front of her. I figured I’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity. It was a very cool experience. I was kind of in shock for a little while about it — she’s a former secretary of state, former first lady, possible presidential candidate. She’s a big shot. It was pretty cool.

Have you read “Hard Choices”?

I have not. The book has now become the office’s. I’m still working to get it back. I have a picture of me with the book. That’s all I have.

Where’s the squirrel suit now? Is someone going to break it out again?

We’ll see, who knows. Maybe when we get closer to election time it’ll come out again. There are a plethora of invitations for the squirrel to show up places, and I’m still interning there so you never know when it’s going to come back.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Owning It: An Interview With the GUWIL Summit Team

owning itThis week, The Hoya guide profiled Georgetown University Women in Leadership, whose sold-out Own It Summit is slated to bring a slew of inspirational women to the Hilltop on April 12. Judy Smith, inspiration for “Scandal” character Olivia Pope; Richelle Parham, chief marking officer for eBay; and Norah O’Donnell, co-host of “CBS This Morning,” are among the many big names set to take the stage at GUWIL’s inaugural event.

Here at 4E, we’re undeniably fans of Maria Shriver, Ambassador Melanne Verveer and the numerous others who will be making an appearance at the GUWIL Summit; however, we are even bigger fans of the dynamic team who put the event together. We sat down with the women behind GUWIL’s Own It Summit to talk about everything from girl crushes to summit aspirations to how one team member avoided being eaten by a bear.

ui9dketxvaz6svj13haiKendall Ciesemier
Summit Co-Chair
COL ’15

What has been your favorite part about being in GUWIL?
Okay, I’m about to get super cheesy on you all. I really believe that planning this summit will be the most rewarding experience I have at Georgetown. I have found incredible friends through this organization. I have an incredible co-chair. I just really love being a part of something I believe in so much. GUWIL is an organization that pumps you up. We are all about that: supporting each other, celebrating success, etc. It’s really an amazing community and it’s really become one of my “homes” at Georgetown.

What are you looking forward to most about the GUWIL Summit?
I am most looking forward to the media panel. I swear I’m going to poop my pants, or cry, or both, standing in the same room as Norah O’Donnell and Alex Wagner. I think they are the bees knees. And then of course it’s always fun to think about the day when my work for nearly a year will come to fruition.

Who is your biggest girl crush?
That’s a really hard question to answer because I have so many of them. Top two as of now are probably Lisa Ling and Mindy Kaling. I basically want to be Lisa Ling when I grow up. She tells amazing stories and is such a fantastic journalist. As for Mindy, I just want to be best friends with her because she would make me laugh so hard that I wouldn’t be able to drink because it would come out of my nose. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love coffee shooting out of her nose?

The ideal manbassador:
My ideal manbassador would be Bradley Cooper for a few obvious reasons.
1. He went to Georgetown, so as far as being a GUWIL manbassador goes, he fits the bill entirely.
2. He’s incredibly good-looking.
3. He seems like a really nice guy.

Leading by example:
When I was little, my friends and I desperately wanted to be like Lindsay Lohan from The Parent Trap. But instead of just eating Oreos with peanut butter, I took it a little farther. I successfully developed a plan of action, convinced my brother and three of my friends to follow and carry out a Lindsay Lohan makeover via a “side-bang” haircut. Of course one of my friends had to be in a wedding the next day and her mom made her cut off all of her hair to match the damage. I was grounded for two weeks and at age six I started to think that I was heading down the wrong path.

Power style:
I think my power style during the duration of this summit planning has become the “make-them-think-I-just-worked-out” look. Others feel lazy because they didn’t work out (that’s a plus). You all know what I mean. Basically, you didn’t have time to shower and have no intention of actually going to the gym, so you just wear workout clothes because you don’t have any clean clothes and you don’t have time to do your hair or makeup. Yep, that’s it. That’s my secret sauce. I’ll make up for my poor hygiene on the day of the Summit. I already bought a banging bright colored dress that I’m pumped to wear!

 

xjsmlgae7vh6elg6zqkaHelen Brosnan
Summit Co-Chair
SFS ’16

What has been your favorite part about being in GUWIL?
It is beyond cool to meet a group of women who you know are all advocating for your and women’s success in general. That, and working alongside the one, the only, Kendall. We’ve shared a few frantic phone calls and a few more rolled eyes in meetings where people did not take well to the Summit. I consider myself very lucky to work with someone who has a work ethic of all of the best animals combined, you know?

What are you looking forward to most about the GUWIL Summit?
Probably when Kara Swisher and I inevitably end up taking a selfie on stage. No, this was not in her speaking contract, but I did tell her it was a dream of mine so we shall see. Also, on a serious note, I am really looking forward to having women and men at Georgetown realize how many insanely awesome and non-linear career paths there are out there.

Who is your biggest girl crush?
They change from day to day, but right now I’m on a complete Madeleine Albright binge. I just read her book, Prague Winter, and couldn’t put it down. She’s incredibly astute, extremely loyal and literally saved our country from multiple disasters. Disclaimer: I dressed up as Albright for four consecutive Halloweens.

On manbassadors:
Manbassadors are a HUGE part of our organization, especially as it pertains to the mission of the Summit. A large part of generating and supporting women’s success is contingent on men’s efforts (and if both are successful, then the world is more successful!). It is a simple fact that the majority of CEOs are men and they will still be the majority for the next few years. Accepting this, we need to make sure men know the best ways to elevate the women in their companies. The same goes for government — if we have male leaders in place, we need to do a better job at making sure they are capable of advocating for the women around them. My ideal manbassador, as of late, is Seth Meyers. I want him to teach a course to Congress on being a manbassador. One time he said this and I cried: “When you work with the sort of really strong women that I work with, the idea that anyone would want to make decisions for them is hard to wrap your head around.”

Leading by example:
When I was chosen to be a line leader in second grade – FIRST GIRL TO BE CHOSEN, OH YEAH – I led everyone straight to the cafeteria when it was gym time. #priorities

Power style:
I’ve definitely tried to rock the Madeleine Albright brooch and cannot pull it off. I would say my power style is a black coat with black sunglasses that blantantly don’t fit my face. This look is sort of a la Hillary Clinton (not this) but really there is just something about wearing aggressively large black sunglasses even when it’s raining out that makes you feel 1/28 as powerful as Hillz.

 

zih3idigvgfut5n3vqo3Ava Arroyo
Co-President of GUWIL
SFS ’16

What has been your favorite part about being in GUWIL?
Seeing the organization grow from 0 to over 100 members in just under a year is so inspiring because there is a true need for this community and network on campus. Also, I love meeting new and interesting people all the time!

What are you looking forward to most about the GUWIL Summit?
I’m looking forward to inspiring the attendees to #Own their success and reach for what they want in life. Also, I’m so excited for all the amazing speakers who are going to blow people away with their personalities, stories and wisdom.

Who is your biggest girl crush?
My biggest girl crush is Kristen Wiig because she’s hilarious. She doesn’t hold back anything. I’ve seen every single one of her “SNL” skits.

The ideal manbassador:
John Hamm, or Don Draper as some people may know him from “Mad Men.” John Hamm actually has spoken out a lot for women’s rights and equality and I think he would set a good example for other men in the room if he attended.

Leading by example:
When I was 8 years old at camp, my counselors had forgotten to follow regular camping protocol of leveraging the food high up in a tree in order to prevent bears and other animals from coming near the campsite, and a bear ended up being right outside our tents at 3 a.m. I somehow managed to remain calm even when my counselors had no clue what to do and comfort the other 8-year-old campers who wanted to hysterically cry. I call that crisis management.

Power style:
I love wearing all black. It instantly commands a room and is just so classic and powerful.

 

girqhtrjyfuaekxsjnmpAlana Snyder
Co-President of GUWIL
COL ’16

What has been your favorite part about being in GUWIL?
I’ve gotten to lead an incredible team of women and men. I’ve met so many people who are just as passionate about the things I hold near and dear to my heart. It’s nice having such a close-knit community available to support me and encourage me to always do my best. No matter how cheesy that sounds, it will always be true. I’m forever thankful that this group I put together with Ava sitting at a back table in Saxby’s my freshman year has exploded into quite the Georgetown buzz. It makes me happy to be able to say I’ve been here since the beginning.

What are you looking forward to most about the GUWIL Summit?
I’m most looking forward to seeing the reaction that the attendees will have the day of the event. I know that sounds pretty generic, but I don’t think people recognize what they have coming to them. This event is going to be fun, inspiring and representative of Georgetown, and I think people won’t be able to get enough of it!

Who is your biggest girl crush?
My biggest girl crush is Maria Shriver. She’s done so many incredible things for women everywhere that it’s impossible not to be impressed. She gets things done. She meets with the president. She’s a mom. She might as well have super powers.

The ideal manbassador:
My ideal manbassador for GUWIL would be Calvin Millien. He is the kind of guy who focuses on himself but always has time for others. He doesn’t discriminate based on gender. He comes to a lot of our events. He is supportive. He is honest. He isn’t afraid to tell people that he is a manbassador. He goes out of his way to make sure that we know he’s on our side. It’s very flattering and I think GUWIL is only made stronger by its members, especially the men. It’s important for us that men be part of the conversation because we need them to be aware of the obstacles women face. Men are just as much a part of the solution to a lot of the problems we address as women are.

Leading by example:
When I was little, I was on a dance team. At one of our performances, I forgot the moves so I made up my own and the rest of the girls on my team followed. We ended up with a routine of seven year olds trying to do the worm on stage.

Power style:
I love all things pink. And I still manage to get taken seriously!

 

lmfzzh0meivatal5rxvnAllyn Rosenberger
Director of Marketing
COL ’17

What has been your favorite part about being in GUWIL?
Meeting absolutely amazing people, both students and speakers, has been the best part of GUWIL! These connections are invaluable and I’m so lucky to be making them.

What are you looking forward to most about the GUWIL Summit?
Even though every single moment of the Summit is going to be equally incredible, I am most looking forward to the conversations that attendees will have with each other and our speakers. Just like in my previous answer, I really value connections.

Who is your biggest girl crush?
Chelsea Clinton. I love her. Her dedication to improving the lives of individuals both here and globally is truly inspiring.

The ideal manbassador:
My ideal manbassador would have to be Jon Stewart. His progressive thinking is the essence of advancing women in leadership.

Leading by example:
In third grade, I successfully founded and ran a “pencil fixing” business with a girl in my class. Basically, we charged people candy to take the erasers off their pencils (in retrospect, we obviously weren’t fixing anything!). Sadly, our teacher learned of this secret business and ended it forever.

Power style:
I wear a silver ring on my left thumb and I don’t go anywhere without it!

 

adahufwdvqndi6xx6a8aElizabeth Buffone
Director of Speakers & Host Committee
COL ’14

What has been your favorite part about being in GUWIL?
My favorite part of being in GUWIL has been being able to connect with other like-minded, strong females. Many of my friends who are also seniors are focusing only on graduation and “what’s next.” It’s really been nice to be surrounded by a group of girls who are so present in the moment. We are focusing on making Georgetown a better place for now.

What are you looking forward to most about the GUWIL Summit?
I am most looking forward to seeing Judy Hofflund and Louisa Spring because they are two of my own personal role models. They are both in the entertainment industry and that is the industry that I am looking to go into next year. I also have an existing relationship with both of them so I am excited to see how the summit strengthens that. But, let’s be real, I’m also really excited to see the real Olivia Pope, Judy Smith.

Who is your biggest girl crush?
My biggest girl crush is probably on Brit Marling just because I want to do exactly what she has done. She also made movies at Georgetown at a time when the technology made it a lot harder. Back then, you really needed to want it in order to put the effort into making a film. That is something I really admire.

The ideal manbassador:
Bradley Cooper would be my ideal manbassador because he is so relevant to Georgetown, so good looking and so cool.

Leading by example:
One time when I was little, I steered a sled with my dad down my driveway. Right as we passed through, a huge tree fell down. It missed us by two seconds. Leadership, luck or superpowers? You be the judge.

Power style:
My power accessory is my signature red Goyard bag. It has my initials on it and I love it.

 

zfir1g5gnoeq0q7l8udaKatherine Key
Director of Logistics
SFS ’15

What has been your favorite part about being in GUWIL?
I have loved getting to know all of the other great women involved in leadership across Georgetown’s campus.

What are you looking forward to most about the GUWIL Summit?
I am very much looking forward to all the speakers. I think I will probably freak out the most about Reshma Saujani, the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, because I am starting to learn to code so she is an inspiration to me.

Who is your biggest girl crush?
Amy Poehler, bar none. I am obsessed with both her organization, Smart Girls at the Party, as well as her work on “SNL” and “Parks and Recreation.”

The ideal manbassador:
My favorite “male feminist” is probably Jimmy Carter. He realizes the importance of empowering women as an agent for change. He is also a fellow Georgian.

Leading by example:
If you know me, you know none of my leadership stories are short…

Power style:
I can’t leave my house without my favorite watch. It is set three minutes ahead so I am always early, and I have worn it every single day since seventh grade.

 

kxreplp7pqpixo7acvoq-1Kelly Mosser
Director of Sponsorships
SFS 2015

What has been your favorite part about being in GUWIL?
Working with such a talented team of amazing female leaders and seeing a strong reaction to our cause. And bowling.

What are you looking forward to most about the GUWIL Summit?
I can’t wait to feel the buzz of having all of these amazing women interacting together in one room!

Who is your biggest girl crush and why?
My older sister, Kim. She #owns her awesome Capitol Hill career and is an amazing mom to my niece, who just turned one. She teaches me so much about balance.

The ideal manbassador:
Derek Jeter, because I like to think we have similar styles of leadership. He’s always composed, energetic, and knows that actions speak louder than words. He’s all about the team.

Leading by example:
I started a Disney sing-along on an airplane at age 4. #LeadersAreBornNotMade

Power style:
I’m obsessed with jackets. You can go pretty much anywhere in a blazer and jeans.

For more information about GUWIL, head to their website here, and click here to find out all the latest information about the inaugural Own It Summit.

Photos: Courtesy GUWIL

An Interview with Jack DeGioia

Today, the Washington Post ran a special interview with Georgetown President Jack DeGioia, who talked about his style of leadership, the challenges the Hilltop currently faces and his goals for the university’s future. Here’s a peek at what President DeGioia had to say:

09.06.11news-flickr-degioia-editThere is no substitute for face-to-face encounters. This year, I will deliver about 230 speeches to a mostly Georgetown audience of one size or another. Probably most important for me are a regular series of town halls were I report out on the issues, challenges and progress to date and take questions from the members of our community. We’ve also tried to use social media in a way that enables us to reach a broader audience. We have found Facebook to be particularly effective to share some of the activities that I am personally engaged in and that characterize what the university is doing.

 For the full interview and more, click here, and be sure to share your thoughts and reactions with us in the comments section below.

Photo: wamu.org

Staffer of the Week: Hiromi Oka

Once a week, The Hoya recognizes a staffer that has done a particularly awesome job – now you can get to know about them, too. As part of our Leavey 421 series, we’ll be posting quick interviews with each Staffer of the Week. This week our incredible individual is Hiromi Oka. Here’s what she had to say for herself:
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Name Hiromi Oka
School SFS
Year 2015
Major International Politics
Hometown Houston, Texas
Positions on the Hoya Contributing Editor
Why did you earn Staffer of the Week?
I didn’t even know I’d gotten staffer of the week until you contacted me! But from what I’ve heard, it’s because I helped out with production last week when the current city news editor, Penny Hung, was out sick.
What is your favorite part about working for the Hoya?
My favorite part of working for The Hoya has to be the last night before all the new editors take their positions and replace the old batch of editors … It’s such an awesome experience.
If you were going to write an autobiography what would it be titled?
This is a hard one. I want to be witty but that’s never been my strong suit. So I guess I would call my autobiography “…” Maybe it’s corny, but I think it conveys a little bit of mystery and progress because you don’t know what’s coming next. If there’s anything that’s true about my life, it’s that I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time.
If you had a one-way time machine what era would you choose to live in?

I just saw a movie about the beat poets so I’d love to go back to the 50s and 60s.

Is It Worth It to Go the Distance?

When you’re about to leave for college, there are a lot of important decisions to make: what you’re going to major in, who you’re going to room with, what color sheets you want, what classes you’re going to take and, for some, if you’re going to stay with your significant other from home.

The topic of long-distance relationships is highly debated in the college community and The Guide took the time to interview some of the people who are “in it for the long haul”.

But what do other Hoyas think about “LDR”s? Take a look here at this Hoya online exclusive.

The Problem With Anonymity: An Interview With Georgetown Confessions

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In the few weeks between the inception of the Georgetown Confessions Facebook page as an outlet for whimsical admittances and its progression to a forum for heated debate about racial and socioeconomic issues or personal attacks, the person behind Confessions was overwhelmed with the volume and maliciousness of anonymous posts.

“I thought the Confessions would be primarily humorous and fun and never thought that intense discussions about race, socioeconomic class and other similar topics would emerge on the page,” Confessions wrote in an online chat.

Many of the discussions on Georgetown Confessions begin with a contentious confession followed by a debate in the comment section or another post that references and responds to the original poster.

“I feel like they have the potential to be meaningful, but they usually just become really petty and hateful,” Confessions wrote.

These comments are primarily submitted through an anonymous Google Form, but are occasionally sent through Facebook message, allowing the person who runs the page to know who submitted it, which Confessions acknowledged changes the dynamic of the anonymous page.

“I feel that non-anonymity gives the creator of the page a certain power over the people who send in confessions, compliments, insults, whatever – which I certainly don’t want,” Confessions wrote.

This difference is the reason Confessions encourages people to submit confessions anonymously. “I feel like it completely defeats the purpose of the page’s anonymity aspect,” Confessions wrote.

Georgetown Compliments, a more positive forum for anonymous Facebook posts, accepts submissions only through Facebook message, giving Compliments access to the identity of posters.

“Ultimately, I think [anonymity] encourages certain people to say things they feel they won’t be held accountable for, which I think is how we’re ending up with some really hateful messages being posted,” Compliments wrote about Confessions.

Georgetown Insults, which also exclusively accepts submissions through Facebook messages, shared the same sentiment.

“Complete anonymity, which Confessions claims to offer, makes people feel that whatever they say, no matter how offensive it is, will never be traced back to them. … I assume people find it sort of liberating when they release their pent up thoughts,” Insults wrote in a Facebook message.

Though the name Georgetown Insults implies the page would be a forum for slander, in practical terms, the page has been used quite differently.

“It’s been relatively easy for me because most of the posts are jests among friends or calling out establishments at Georgetown. … People realize that I am a person that they might know and/or be friends with, so they restrict themselves in what they send me,” Insults wrote.

The owner of Confessions has adapted to filtering posts for hateful or offensive content.

“In the beginning, I don’t think I was very good at filtering the confessions, but I gradually improved with experience,” Confessions wrote. “While I believe that the controversial Confessions do promote awareness about diversity-related issues within the Georgetown community, I feel that the negative and hateful comments may paint Georgetown in a negative light to the outside world.”

Recently, a debate arose on Confessions about slut-shaming and sexual harassment, to which Take Back the Night Co-Chair Kat Kelley (NHS ’14) responded. A subsequent post singled out Kelley in a malicious personal attack, displayed here. This instance of cyber-bullying caused outrage among Confessions readers, to which Confessions responded by issuing a formal apology on Facebook and contacting Kelley directly.

“Georgetown students do have the right to ask that posts be taken down,” Confessions acknowledged. The owner of Confessions took the post down due to the general public outrage and proceeded to delete many other confessions at student request. Confessions attributed this particular instance of publication of a hateful confession to inexperience of a new member of the Confessions team.

Given the tremendous increase in popularity and in the number of confessions submitted daily, I tried to find another person to help me run the page. I let the other person run the page for a few days, and because he/she was unfamiliar with how the page worked and the filtering aspect of the job, a lot of harmful Confessions were posted unintentionally. I didn’t realize what had happened until a few days later, and I thereby deleted the harmful posts and proceeded to issue an apology,” Confessions wrote.

Kelley was skeptical of this rationalization.

“I find it hard to believe that it was just a couple days of one person not filtering because it seems like there should have been a filter on a while ago,” Kelley said.

According to Confessions, similar pages at other colleges do not usually address such divisive issues.

“The page is similar to many other schools’ Confessions pages because many light-hearted confessions are posted each day, but it is different because of the intense discussions about race, socioeconomic status and other similar topics that take place on the page,” Confessions wrote.

It is uncertain whether other schools monitor confessions more closely or if the Georgetown student body is more prone to confession about socioeconomic, racial and sexual issues.

Northwestern Confessions employs a stricter monitoring method than Georgetown Confessions.

“We don’t post any posts with names on them or posts that directly attack a specific person or group of people. … Although this is a space where [Northwestern] students are free to confess, we don’t intend it to also be a vehicle for hate and hostility in the student body. Therefore, we believe a little monitoring is healthy for the page and the community that participates in it,” Northwestern Confessions wrote in a Facebook message.

Confessions noted, however, that the Facebook page shows something distinctive about the Hilltop.

“While the page might paint the Georgetown community in a negative light, especially because of the petty and hateful comments that have arisen in the past, I feel that the page also shows the diversity of opinions within the Georgetown community, in addition to the unity of the student body, especially in response to things like the controversial cyber-bullying posts,” said Confessions.

Confessions suggested that the increased volume of posters and expanded readership might minimize the impact of individual confessions.

“Given the large increase in the page’s popularity over the last several weeks, I’ve become somewhat desensitized to the impact that these Confessions might affect Georgetown students personally,” Confessions wrote.

Georgetown Confessions has prompted many students to reflect on the role of anonymity and public debate on campus, but only time will tell what else this page will show about the Georgetown community.

Photo: Lindsay Lee/The Hoya