Sussex confessions: We’ve all at some point read the confessions, and have been filled with shock, horror and amusement when hearing about the shocking antics that our fellow students (and sometimes teachers!) have been up to. Some of us  have even had the daunting experience of being featured in one. The page acts as an all seeing eye on campus, with no quirky (we don’t kink-shame here at The Badger) hook-up or hangxiety-inducing night out left unconfessed. 

The page first emerged during the Covid lockdown of 2020, transforming from a modest page gathering a few likes per post, to a mainstay name in both the minds and hearts of students all around Brighton. I was given the exciting chance to interview them to gain a better understanding about the origins of the page, the unique experience they’ve had being the faceless broadcaster of secrets around campus, and potentially find a few hints into who the anonymous figures could be. 

Firstly, could you tell us some details about the inception of Sussex Confessions, and what inspired you/your team to create this platform?

It all began during the Covid lockdown in October 2020. For those of us who stayed on campus, it was a bit of a downer, really. We were missing out on the usual first-year fun and everything was just a bit slow and fragmented.  That’s when we noticed these Instagram accounts popping up, kind of filling a gap. They became a new way to connect with others on campus, something different from Facebook, which wasn’t everyone’s go-to anymore. Sussex Confessions started small, just a few hundred followers, and it was like this little central spot for us to share what was happening – whether someone was throwing a motive or if there were police or campus security patrolling around. With classes moved to Zoom and hardly any real-life interaction, the account just sort of grew on its own. People started sharing more than just updates – they shared their stories, their confessions. It was our way of staying connected, of feeling a bit of that university vibe when everything else was just screens and isolation. It’s pretty amazing how it evolved into this big mix of confessions and stories, becoming a real part of our life at Sussex.

It was our way of staying connected, of feeling that university vibe when everything else was just screens and isolation

How do you decide which confessions to feature on Sussex Confessions, and do you have any criteria for selecting or filtering confessions?

When selecting confessions for Sussex Confessions, we really try to capture a mix of everything. It’s quite a subjective process, and we get a whole range of confessions, so we aim to balance the serious ones with the funny ones. Sometimes we get confessions that make us cringe, and occasionally they’re even about people we know. But we stay unbiased in what we choose to post. In fact, if there were confessions about us, we’d post those too (Maybe we have?). We receive a lot of submissions that aren’t particularly interesting, funny or serious – a lot of memes and the like – and we sometimes leave those out. We’ve also had to make a call on the numerous lost and found confessions we get. At one point, we did post them, but now, there are just too many, and we’d practically turn into a lost and found service if we posted all of them. We also try to be very careful about not naming people directly in the confessions. Using nicknames is generally okay, depending on what’s being confessed, of course. So, that’s essentially how we decide – trying to keep a good mix and staying fair to everyone involved. Obviously, we’re just students managing this, and although we do our best, sometimes mistakes can happen. When it comes to confessions that are more serious in nature, we try to take extra care. We often reach out to those individuals, asking if they need any help, and we provide information about university services or support groups that might assist them if need be. 

Are there any positive stories or experiences that have emerged from the confessions shared on the platform?

Sussex Confessions has surprisingly become quite a positive thing for linking people together. It’s not just about sharing anonymous stories; it’s turned into a place where occasionally connections are made. We’ve seen people find flatmates through our posts, which, given how tough the housing situation can be, is pretty practical and helpful. The platform has also been useful for stuff like getting the word out about tickets for events like Boundary, or for promoting student societies. It’s a straightforward way to reach a bunch of students quickly. What’s quite interesting is how people interact in the comments. We’ve had instances where someone’s confession about another person leads to those two actually getting in touch. It’s not always a fairytale ending, but it’s cool to see interactions kick off from a simple post. We often get messages from students saying the platform’s helped them take a breather during study sessions or feel a bit less isolated, especially during those intense university periods. It’s good to know that amidst all the anonymity and fun, the platform’s actually made at least a tiny bit of difference in the student community at Sussex. 

Image: Anna Hills

Have there been any confessions that were particularly controversial, or generated a significant response from students? 

Yes, we’ve had some really controversial confessions that got a big reaction. A couple of years back, there were a few posts about a student who we’ll refer to as A who was later removed from Sussex, accused of serious things involving girls on campus. Those confessions opened the floodgates, with many others coming forward to share similar experiences. It was the first time we realised what this platform was able to do. 

Most of the time, our Instagram account is just about sharing funny or light-hearted confessions. It’s a way for people to share their thoughts with a large audience of around 14,000 current and former students. The comments section is where you really see whether an opinion/confession is popular or not, and it’s often made itself known pretty quickly, but occasionally there’s debates even days or weeks after the confession has been posted.

We’ve also seen our fair share of relationship drama, like confessions about cheating. These posts sometimes lead to people being indirectly exposed, and we’ve had situations where multiple people think a confession is about them. They come to us, demanding to know who sent it in, which can get pretty complicated. With almost 2,000 confessions posted, it’s hard to remember all the specifics. Sometimes people ask us to take down their confession because it’s caused too much drama, they’ve been identified by someone they know, or they just regret posting it. It’s all part of running the page – it’s not always straightforward, and it can get quite intense and weird at times.

Sometimes people ask us to take down their confession because it’s caused too much drama.

What’s the funniest or most outrageous confession you’ve ever received? Can you share a memorable one with us?

We’ve honestly seen a whole spectrum of wild stories. But the one that really stands out? It’s hard to pick just one with the array of stuff we get. We’ve had everything from bizarre situations, like the massive dead fly infestation in Norwich house, several years back, to some really out-there behaviour in the library and student centre. And then there was this confession about a makeshift brothel in Park Village.

Reading these, you kind of build a tolerance to the outrageous. Some confessions are so extreme they can be a bit much, and we’re careful to screen out anything too graphic or against Instagram’s rules. We’ve seen a fair share of nudes, an oddly high number of feet pictures, and various stories about people spewing on the bus or in a lecture. 

One particularly memorable confession involved the aftermath in an international student’s room which included a s*x doll. What’s also really surprising is the openness we’ve observed about sexuality and kinks among the Sussex community. The number of confessions about pegging, for instance,  Is INSANE. It’s been an eye-opener, to say the least, and never fails to catch us off guard.

You kind of build a tolerance to the outrageous…

How are people selected to participate in the Sussex Confessions page – is there a group in the know or is it a one-man show?

Its a difficult one to answer, I think we got a bit lucky messaging the page when we did as I think the previous admin was struggling with what to do with the page and so was more than happy to hand it over. I think that’ll probably be that same sort of approach we take going forward, just interacting with some of the people who have previously messaged us as they’ve shown an interest in continuing this. 

There are two people who currently operate this page atm and it’s definitely been a struggle to keep the secret of the page underwraps, especially when a friend is DM-ing you a confession you’ve just posted. It’s also interesting knowing embarrassing secrets about friends that have sent confessions in, I think a definite criteria of being an admin of this page or being considered is having an open mind with a good poker face. 

Lastly is there any chance you could you give us a sneaky hint about who/what is behind this page? 

Well the previous admin just graduated so there’s one clue, in regard to who’s running the page now, well – we’re at Casa’s a fair bit and love a bit of Martha Gunn – Even as I write this, I’m sitting in the library now, writing an essay for my humanities degree.  

We’ve given out a few hints in the past and might do so in the future, although I don’t know how many people are bothered or interested in the discovery of who runs this page. 

You can find the Sussex Confessions page on instagram at @sussex_confessions to read all of the latest secrets lingering around campus, and potentially vent some of your own confessions for the student body to see!

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