The wonder of UWS Confessions has been the true barometer of the student experience of Western Sydney for the last 3 years. With Macquarie’s confessions at a measly 157 likes, UTS at 15,097, USyd at 15,029 and the nearest rival UNSW at 22,583 our editor Nicole Gismondo decided to look into the success of UWS Confessions (28,494), and live vicariously through the UWS Spy…
- When did you start UWS Confessions?
I started UWS Confessions while I was in my second year. I still remember launching the page when I was in my Contracts class… I was really bored so I started to procrastinate and ended up on Facebook. I shared the page on UWS Memes then after a few minutes of phasing in and out of day dreaming and trying to concentrate in class I noticed a few people in front of me on their laptops on my page. Was kind of weird since I never thought it would get out that quick.
- Why did you start it?
I didn’t really have any purpose at first. I just saw other uni’s having big confession pages so I thought to myself that we should have something like that! I kind of had some experience running pages so I knew what people wanted to see on their newsfeeds and what they didn’t want to – for example advertisements. I had a basic recipe for the page and just sat back and let it grow.
- Were you always intending to be the UWS spy? Or did that come after Confessions?
After a few months of running UWS Confessions, something awesome happened. I was sitting down with a friend in the UWS Labs, finishing up on an assignment and it was getting pretty late. We were the only two in the labs at the time. My friend had an old iPhone 4s and a weird idea came up, I thought we could use it as bait and see what people would do with it. The individual who found the iPhone started making calls to his cousins on how he can unlock it and sell the phone. It was interesting watching this individual, it felt like he was part of some sort of human experiment. The following day I typed all the details of the experiment and posted it on the Confessions page. I didn’t expect much from the post, but it exploded and received over a thousand likes and over five hundred comments. People seemed to love the idea of the social experiment for some reason and it was interesting to get all the feedback from my followers. After this my friends and I conducted a number of other social experiments, uploading the details on the page. Each experiment would always attract thousands of views, likes & comments and people seemed to love them. At first people would call me a “vigilante” or even “batman” but one of my friends suggested the title “Mr UWS Spy” and I’ve hung onto that since!
- What has been your favourite social experiment?
It would be one of the early ones. I set up an iPad as bait to see what people would do with it. Some blonde chick picked it up and started playing with it trying to unlock the device. The funny thing was my password was (0000) so it really wasn’t that hard to crack! She then walked out of the library with the iPad and went to her car which was an expensive BMW. My friends went and asked her for the iPad and she was becoming belligerent towards them so I walked up to her and showed her two photos that my mates took of her taking off with the iPad. It’s funny how one second an individual does anything to deny something then two seconds later they just silently hand back the device and apologise. This person then went onto help us with the next social experiment we conducted on the Parramatta campus. So it was a very weird but interesting outcome.
- Has an experiment ever gone South?
No. We ensure that our experiments go smooth by planning. We don’t just spontaneously conduct them without getting together and discussing how, where and when we are going to do one. Whenever we do conduct experiments we position ourselves at vantage points so that we don’t lose our bait and that they are conducted in public spaces.
- What do you think will happen to confessions when you graduate? (Assuming you are a current student?)
My plans are to pass this page onto a first year/second year student when I graduate. I’m not going to be around forever and I don’t intend to run this page after I graduate since I’ll be very busy. I’ll advertise it on the page and ask for people who are interested to inbox the page and I’ll decide from there. I’m hoping to find someone who can keep the page active so if they’re up for that… then inbox!
- The page currently has over 28,000 likes, one of the only UWS pages that rivals other Sydney Unis, what do you think makes it so popular?
I think it’s because the admin of the page aka the UWS Spy is a familiar character on the uni campus. Most people know about my character and it keeps people entertained. I try to post up original content and refrain from posting anything like click-bait advertisements which many other uni have a long reputation of doing. Ultimately it’s the original content and the drama that brings people back onto the page. I try to keep things interesting for everyone without offending anyone… so it’s a hard game to play but I think I’ve learned a lot of lessons since day one.
- Do you intend to ever change the name from UWS to WSU or some variant?
At the moment no. The reason I decided to keep this page as UWS confessions is mainly because UWS holds some sort of a sentimental value to me and also to the many other students who are the ‘veterans’ of this university. I’ve also got other reasons which is more leaning towards marketing, since the university went through a brand and name change I didn’t want the content of this page to impact their work. They’ve done an amazing job of it so hats off to them. When the page does get passed down to my successor who knows, maybe they will change the page name to WSU Confessions I can’t table it out.