With students coming from all over the world to study such a wide variety of subjects, there are few things that we all truly share in. However, one institution that brings us all together is the many Facebook pages devoted to anonymous posts from the student body. Never mind the Students’ Association or the Debating Society, these are the heated battlegrounds where St Andrews students have the conversations that need to be had.
Capitalising on the popularity of this phenomenon was the Charities Campaign’s contribution to this year’s On the Rocks: an exhibition entitled Secret St Andrews. Confessions were collected anonymously, both online and through boxes placed around the town. They were then stuck to pillars and hung from the ceiling in the Beacon Bar on Saturday evening, all on brightly coloured flashcards. Imagine somebody’s bedroom the day before an exam, but if they were doing a module on the depraved and wicked mind.
Secret St Andrews was an interesting experiment in turning the anonymised world of social media into a physical space. If somebody asked me what the internet was like, having them stand in the middle of that room would not be a bad approximation. There was the usual kaleidoscope of sexual escapades and political opinions, as well as a long list of things that are “not a substitute for a personality”. Contributions ranged from typical first world problems (“I don’t like the K.K. but I still want to go to May Ball”) to the ridiculous (“I cover myself in butter and slide around like a seal”). There was no attempt to organise or manage the tone of the confessions, onlookers were instead invited to revel in the chaos of St Andrews life.
Often amusing and sometimes disturbing, Secret St Andrews was nevertheless a 20-minute experience at most. To anyone planning on organising something similar in the future, I would suggest choosing a venue with a lot of foot traffic. Such an exhibition would be ideal for people to peruse in the Byre foyer or the library café, but probably not tucked away in Beacon Bar. The exhibition should, however, be commended for capturing something of the St Andrean spirit. I for one felt a genuine moment of solidarity with a stranger who stole a kitchen sign from DRA only to feel so bad they returned it the next day.