Secrets revealed on communal wall

By John Doe

Would you ever consider telling people the name of your vibrator?  What about coming out of the closet in a very public way?  How about telling the Oakland University community that your parents were homeless when you were born?  OU students can now do these things without taking ownership of their statements.

The windows in West Vandenberg Hall allow students to do just that.

West Vandenberg resident assistant Alexa Van Vilet is responsible for the development of the Secrets Wall, which was considered one of her passive programs.

“I can’t remember my first inspiration, but I was probably wandering through a Barnes & Noble and saw one of the PostSecret Books,” Van Vilet said.  “My goal was to show that we shouldn’t feel bad if we think we have mean or weird thoughts and feelings. I think it brought some humor and depth to the community.”

Most of the posted secrets are hand-written on pieces of colored paper.  Many students said the wall is a creative outlet for students.

“It’s a cool thing for people to be able to express themselves,” said Katelynn Gumper, a resident in the hall and a nursing major.  “It’s a cool way for people to say what they really want.”

Some of the secrets on the wall are

personal messages to girlfriends,

embarrassing habits and even some deep, dark secrets.

Some students think the wall is a good stress reliever, while others think the wall is more serious.

“I was a little surprised that some are depressing,” said Christy Sauer, a resident and biology major.  “I didn’t realize there were that many people who felt that way.”

According to Sauer, there was a posting about a suicide up on the wall at one point, which is not on the wall anymore.

Van Vilet said the housing department would step in if suicide-themed or harmful secrets were posted.

“We’d probably do a building program and bring in Graham’s counselors about ways to deal with those feelings,” Van Vilet said.  “We didn’t discuss the possibility of a bomb threat or violent assault, so I am unsure about what we would do. I speculate that Oakland University Police Department would get involved.”

The maturity level of the wall’s users is often a topic of interest to those who read the wall.

“It’s not a bad idea,” said Adam LaFramboise, a Resident and a psychology major. “But with this age group, you get people who are going to be mature about it and people who are going to be immature about it.”

Many residents have taken time to read all of the secrets, including  Andrew Mandley, who was able to notice a new secret on the wall immediately. The posted secret had the words “I think about other boys when I’m in bed with you” written on it.

“That’s not OK,” said Mandley, a Resident and engineering major. “Guys should learn to recognize their girlfriends’ handwriting.”

Some may consider the wall too raunchy and some may consider it funny. Regardless, the wall is a place for students to be honest without facing judgments.