When students want to share experiences at Belmont, chat about Belle the campus cat, offer up a silly story, ask for advice or say what’s on their minds anonymously, the Belmont Confessions Twitter account is the place to go.
But one of Belmont Confessions’ biggest tweets of the year answered a question on a lot of students’ minds: who started it all?
The founders behind Belmont Confessions, which has become a buzzing part of Belmont’s online community, revealed their identities after spending nearly two years of anonymity.
Now that they have both graduated, Emma Gibson and Emily Gartz are taking credit for the account they created in April 2020. But Gibson and Gartz never expected the account they made for fun would grow to almost 2,700 followers, get featured on BuzzFeed News or become so impactful among Belmont students.
“I thought that we were going to have four followers and the account was going to die within a month,” Gibson said. “I think that once we kind of realized that people cared about it, that’s kind of when it hit both of us. This was bigger than we could imagine.”
After being sent home from their study abroad trips due to COVID-19 in March 2020, the pair felt separated from Belmont.
Looking to fill the gap left by the pandemic and looking for some laughs while at home in quarantine, Gibson and Gartz began Belmont Confessions.
The former roommates decided to start the famed account after Gibson saw a Twitter account from Ithaca College called IC Crushes, where students anonymously submitted their missed connections.
In the same fashion, Belmont Confessions thrives on anonymity — Belmont students send in their thoughts to be posted anonymously, but it was also crucial for the pair of administrators to keep their own identities a secret, Gartz said, in order to keep the trust of their audience.
“I feel like I would feel more comfortable sending something to someone if I didn’t know exactly what their face was,” Gibson said.
The founders felt students were more likely to send in a confession without knowing who they were sending it to
“My friends weren’t going to send stuff in if they knew it was me,” said Gartz. “It was so weird that everyone blindly trusted us, but it was also really cool. That was something we didn’t want to break.”
With social media prevalent in the lives of students, the account grew quickly within the Belmont social media community and became an outlet for students to share their thoughts, questions, observations and jokes.
“what’s your belmont big three? i think i’m a johnson sun, wilson moon, and massey rising” — Belmont Confessions (@belmont_confess) December 1, 2021
“Does anyone know the flavor of the orange cake at the caf tonight, I had a damn ball munchin on that sucker!” — Belmont Confessions (@belmont_confess) February 1, 2021
“nothing quite says "its about drive its about power" like swinging open the JAAC doors without fighting for your life” — Belmont Confessions (@belmont_confess) December 1, 2021
Belmont Confessions expanded to the point where the two founders would sometimes receive up to 50 direct messages in a day, depending on the news going around campus in a certain week.
“People would send us DMs with whatever they wanted us to tweet. We would tweet it,” said Gartz.
“Most of the time.”
With so many confessions coming in — and not all of them written with good intentions — the pair worked to screen submissions and make their page a safe environment.
“We kind of had an unspoken rule that if something was mean and addressed somebody by full name and would hurt somebody’s feelings, we are not going to post it. We honestly would respond to the DM and be like ‘That’s not a nice thing to say. We’re not posting that,’” said Gartz.
But the account became more than a place to post about campus crushes, stream-of-consciousness silliness and classroom complaints.
During the university’s fall semester, the account appeared to post more serious confessions, especially when it came to the university’s COVID-19 policies or issues regarding diversity.
“Anyone else screwed for their jobs in Nashville? I’m supposed to work on January 5 but literally have no place to stay and I had to email my boss requesting 10 days off (I might not even have a job now when I come back)” — Belmont Confessions (@belmont_confess) December 29, 2021
Confessions was busy after Belmont announced online classes and dorm closures due to COVID-19. Students shared their struggles and concerns with the policy online.
“What year were you when you first had a class taught by a black professor at Belmont?” — Belmont Confessions (@belmont_confess) August 26, 2021
A thread where students lifted up Black faculty members at Belmont.
“Belmont Confessions really is just a reflection of the student body. We post what they say,” said Gibson. “There was a communal feeling of more of a serious attitude towards certain topics.”
Some confessions are impossible to check for accuracy, but Gibson and Gartz left it up to their audience to decide whether or not confessions were true or false.
“As a reader, you kind of have to take everything with a grain of salt and an air of disbelief because when it comes down to it, you’re reading tweets from an anonymous Twitter account,” said Gibson.
After Gibson graduated in spring 2021, the duo had to find a new student to fill her role.
They set up an online application form and received nearly 80 applications from eager students. When going through the same process after Gartz graduated in December 2021, they received over 100 applications.
Gibson and Gartz reassured followers that the two new students now tasked with running Confessions will carry on the legacy of the account, which is now more popular than ever.
“We went through their social media to make sure they were active and would fit the same tone,” said Gibson. “They both do a really good job of carrying the torch.”
Confessions’ current admins will continue the tradition of staying anonymous — a secret that will remain the account’s most awaited confession.
we’ll miss all you little weirdos but we’ve left this page in good hands. belmont confessions 4ever — emma (@EmmaMaryGibson) December 18, 2021
Confessions founders sign off to the Belmont community after their identities went public.
PHOTO: Emily Gartz (left) and Emma Gibson at Gartz’ commencement in December. Belmont Confessions / Emily Gartz.
This article was written by David Pang and Allison Fedorchek.