UW Crushes Admin Speaks Out
An administrator for the controversial UW Crushes Facebook page granted an exclusive interview to Laramie's KOWB News Center this week.
UW Crushes is a site where people from the University of Wyoming community can post sometimes-anonymous personal ads confessing crushes on other students. The site came under criticism last month when UW student Meg Lanker-Simons publicly announced that she perceived a post directed at her to be a violent rape threat. A demonstration was held in the wake of the controversy and the UW Crushes website went dormant and was inaccessible to the public until this week.
The controversy continues, now, after Lanker-Simons was cited by University of Wyoming police on a charge of interference. According to the citation, police suspect that Lanker-Simons "admitted to making a controversial post on UW Crushes webpage and then lied about not doing it.” She will appear in court later this month where Laramie attorney Charles Pelkey says she will enter a plea of not-guilty.
Lanker-Simons is considered innocent until found guilty by a court of law.
In the days following the citation, the UW Crushes page agreed to an interview with Laramie's KOWB News Center, under a condition of anonymity. It was agreed that the interview take place via Facebook's personal message system and the questions were answered from the UW Crushes account by a person claiming themselves to be the site's founder.
The questions were sent to the alleged founder and the answers were sent back via Facebook. We reproduce those unedited answers here. Because this interview was conducted anonymously, we leave the decision of the factual validity of these comments to our readers.
Also worth noting, during the exchange, the UW Crushes administrator talks about a post to the UW Crushes page that did not make it to publication on the site itself. This description could be considered by some readers to be graphic and offensive. Reader discretion is advised. Further the thoughts and viewpoints expressed by the person claiming to be the UW Crushes founder do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, beliefs or viewpoints of The KOWB News Center, its parent company Townsquare Media, or any affiliates or employees thereof.
You've decided to remain anonymous for this interview, can you tell us a little about why?
Why shouldn't I? Many reasons actually. Firstly, I'm not the kind of person who loves to grab lots of attention around himself because that's simply not me. Secondly, I don't wanna leave any clue behind that might expose me later. Also, it won't be much of a secret if I reveal myself that easily especially that I feel people are more enjoying the fact I'm anonymous.
With anonymity in mind, can you tell us anything about yourself? Age? Gender? Are you a student at UW, currently? What field of study?
I am a very outgoing person who loves traveling, getting to know new people, having fun to the max with his buddies, partying, and I am said to be a little bit shy. Besides, I came from a really big city with a whole different culture and attitude from Wyoming, but I have to admit that I have learnt a lot from my experience here so far. I am over 21, male, a current student at UW, and studying Engineering.
Tell us a little bit about where the idea for UW Crushes came from and why you decided to undertake the task of starting it.
It's absolutely not my genuine idea as there are many crushes pages directed to many different universities' students not just in the US, but all over the world. I remember that one time when me and one of the other admins were checking that crushes page, which has more than 18,000 likes, of the university I used to go to before I transferred to UW and we were really having a good time reading the posts and seeing how people react to it. Then, I told him "Are you down if I create UW Crushes?" He just gave me a five. I only take the credit for starting it in Wyoming. I thought it would be an interesting thing to offer to UW students. It’s given us a lot of joy, no doubt.
How does the site work?
We receive posts for UW Crushes either by messaging the page itself, or by sending to Survey Monkey. If it's sent as a Facebook message, I will know the identity of the poster. If it's sent via Survey Monkey, I would absolutely have no idea who posted it.
How Many people are currently admins for the UW Crushes site? Did you have a relationship with them before the page?
We are now just two. We were previously four. The third one will rejoin us soon, but not really sure about the fourth. Yeah, I have known two of them since last semester and there is one who just came this semester.
Can you tell us what happened when you received the post that specifically mentioned Meg Lanker-Simons? Did it stand out at the time?
Actually, I got this post on Survey Monkey but when I am in a hurry, I don't read but just copy and paste, and take the shortcut. I swear it wasn't that obvious but after 8 hours from posting it, I found out what mistake I have done after reading it, and I figured out later that I really posted many inappropriate posts like the one about God, which would have disgusted me personally if I read it. I'm still sorry and I apologize again not to Meg, for sure, but for our fans for doing such terrible mistakes. Meg wouldn't have posted this one about herself and get all that attention unless she has been watching the page's activity and realized that the admins don't screen the posts. It's my fault anyway at least for giving her the chance to trap me, and for not screening my posts. I also like to add that before this incident, I used to read some posts by chance and I self-evaluated them as inappropriate and they weren't posted. For example, I found this post before "(A name was here).. The things I would do to that tight, petite body of yours.. Your catholic family would go in to shock if they heard the things I'd do to you.. You were in the library and all I could think about was throwing you up against the 4th floor stacks and penetrating you over and over until you couldn't stand.." I felt there's something weird about it, and I sent this post to the girl mentioned in a message. She asked not to post it, and it wasn't, for sure.
After the Meg Lanker-Simons post went live it started receiving a lot of criticism. Can you tell us what was happening on your end when that started happening? What was going through your mind? Were there conversations about a course of action between yourself and other admins for the page?
We were receiving dozens of messages asking to delete the post, and they got what they wanted. Then we started getting negative comments from a punch of people whom I doubt that they were even fans of the page. I decided to publish a public apology to Meg on the page's timeline and I did, but then things escalated quickly. The page turned out to be nothing but a massive chaos after this apology. We started also to get frequent threats from Meg hinting that she will not let us go until we are arrested or permanently expelled from the university if we don't give her our names. I have also taken screen shots of those threats. Honestly, I won't lie and say that I was relaxed and everything was cool in our side. Conversely, our life turned out to be hell for a couple of days especially after knowing that the university might put us under questioning after using their official seal as the page's profile picture. That's why from here, I state that I owe all UW Faculty and Officials a sincere apology for using UW's official seal. It was never my intention to create such an awkward and uncomfortable situation. I thought it's okay as there are many crushes pages using their university's official logo, and I hope if I fixed this mistake now by changing the profile picture. Moreover, two of the admins stepped down as things were getting more intense and I got severe scolding from all of them for doing this mistake, and they told me they don't wanna pay the price of my inattention as I'm the one responsible for posting those sent to Survey Monkey. Later, another admin stepped down before I took down the page the next day. What might be funny about this whole issue is that whenever I saw cops around, I thought they were coming for me. I was trying to turn my face away
Did you believe at the time, upon review, that the post targeted at Lanker-Simons constituted a rape threat or any other threat of violence?
I believed that the post was definitely inappropriate and lacked any sense of class, and it wasn't supposed to to let it be published at all. But, my personal logical assumption which might be inaccurate as I'm just a normal student, neither an expert nor an analyst, was that this post was sent by an immature silly person who wanted just to express his bad feelings towards Meg and her liberal ideas in the most horrible and unacceptable way, rather than a rapist. I also assumed that if the intention of rape was really there, this person won't post about it to the public in advance as both the victim and the cops would be more careful and attentive. Honestly, the fact that Meg is the one posted this about herself was utterly unexpected.
Ultimately the page was shut down for a brief time following the criticism of the post targeted at Lanker-Simons. Why did you do this?
Many reasons indeed. I won't deny that the fear factor was one of them as I cannot afford being expelled from the university. You won't believe me if I tell you that my biggest and only dream and goal at the current time is to graduate. Also, as I previously mentioned the page was a massive chaos back then, and the main purpose of the page which is fun, was lost in between. In addition, it wasn't a good time to get distracted by all of this especially before the final exams. The fact also that all other admins stepped down finding me alone facing this with no back-up or support, made me think that taking down the page at that time was the wisest decision.
In the days following the controversy, a demonstration was held at UW against rape culture. Did you attend the event? If not, did you hear anything about it afterwards? There were statements critical of the UW Crushes Page and the Admins specifically. Did you hear any of these and if so, what was your reaction?
Yes, I attended just out of curiosity, but also to eat free pizza. I cannot resist Domino's pizza … Yes, I heard the statements about us and UW Crushes. I heard people cheering against us, so I started cheering with them against us with a big smile on my face … I have to admit that I had a good time in this demonstration. I'm not trying to be provocative, or voice that I'm pro-rape culture. No, not at all. I'm absolutely against rape culture, violence, hatred, and lack of morals and ethics, and I know that all my page's fans are good people too. But, I know that most of us are against too much drama, exaggerations, and people who seek attention maybe because they are mentally sick, or because they have a great load of low-self esteem. What I meant is the feeling is indescribable especially when you are standing in demonstration knowing that everybody in it is hating you, but yet you are anonymous. Knowing that if your identity got revealed any moment during the demonstration, all these people will turn against you or maybe throw your face with eggs and tomatoes made me feel that standing there is so much fun, but only for me and the other admins for sure hahaha … I felt like I'm a Batman or Spider-man. It may sound childish for a 21+ guy, but yeah I'm a fun person and I couldn't let my flawless sarcasm prevent me from going to sign on their big piece of paper as UW Crushes Admin. I'm wondering if they found my signature. Nonetheless, the cause itself is much appreciated and respected, and I wish them all the best in the future, addressing their message without getting their march hampered by people like Meg.
UW announced that University of Wyoming Police were investigating the incident. Have they contacted you?
UW Spokespersons have said that the page was contacted about the use of a trademarked image on the UW Crushes site. What kind of interaction took place? Do you have any reaction or comment about this?
I think there wasn't a direct contact on Facebook, but I can say that we got their message from the couple of e-mails sent to the whole university. That's why when I republished the page, my first concern was to change the page's profile picture because it may reflect any affiliation with UW. I announced already on the page, am announcing it now, will announce it over and over again that we, UW Crushes Admins, hereby declare that UW Crushes page is in no way affiliated with nor endorsed by University of Wyoming. It's just one of those fan pages enjoyed by many just like UW Confessions, and University of Wyoming Memes For Great Success.
Lanker-Simons was cited by UW Police not long after the demonstration. The citation alleges that she made a controversial post on the UW Crushes site herself then lied to police about doing it. The story was picked up by news media the next day. When did you hear about it? What was your reaction?
I heard about it on Tuesday, April 30, around 12:00 PM. I was extremely shocked. It was like I'm having an automatic role in one of those suspense movies that usually have very unexpected endings. I also was angry as f**k and felt that I got stabbed in my back. I was blaming myself million times that I got tricked by this woman called Meg Lanker-Simons and had to take down UW Crushes. That made me feel so stupid and naive, to be honest.
A post on Lanker-Simon's blog says she's pleading not guilty to the allegations in the citation. Do you believe she was behind the original post? Why do you believe what you do?
Yes, I do believe she's the mastermind of this conspiracy because simply there isn't a normal person in the world who got raped before and feel so much oppressed, threatened, and terrified, would care more about cheering everyone to go out in a rally against rape culture rather than caring about what this anonymous rapist is hiding for her. She didn't even take it easy on the makeup the day the demonstration was held like if she was posing already for the cameras around. She was smiling, looking so refreshed, and vigorous, and that was contradicting with what she was trying to convey all the time about her being broken, frustrated, disappointed, thrilled, bla bla bla. Furthermore, when that post caused a lot of controversy on the page, she was caring more about exposing our names, UW Crushes Admins, rather than trying to figure out with us who might have sent this post about her. She was more about addressing the cause of stopping violence, sexual harassment, and rape culture which all sound legitimate but not in a time you, Meg, are saying that there is a real threat of rape out there waiting for you. Why weren't you consuming that time trying to find who was that rapist for God's sake? I heard that she also posted on her blog the pictures and names of the 9 people who liked this awful post, and she also threatened them. How come is she really threatened, and threatens people at the same time? I think that all make sense to me. There's also that guy who sent a message to the page sharing his concerns about that incident before even Meg got that citation. He said "Hello, my name is (A name was here) and i am contacting you about the recent issues with a post. I was actually going to write this on your wall but thought it may cause controversy, so i was going to ask before i wrote it. "Obviously an admin approved of that message, why? there are a few reasons (reasons are not good), Why meg responded to it as a form of activist is what concerns me, no person that felt threatened or made uncomfortable by someone else's statement would just sit there and argue about it or "call it out" and cheer everyone else on that was against it too like some form of organizer. the police would have been involved immediately.. This whole thing is utterly fishy and smells of troll. The person that originally wrote that message obviously knew Meg, and she knew him/her. if it wasn't herself that wrote that. The truth always comes out... " This whole thing smells wrong to me, i assume there are a few admins, do any of them know meg personally? because i do not see someone posting that or even writing that unless they knew meg."I highlighted his message on the page's timeline, and I really admire his way of thinking.
During the controversy a UW Crushes 2.0 was started. Were you affiliated in any way with them? Did they or have they contacted you in the meantime?
I absolutely didn't have any affiliation with them. People just were in love with UW Crushes, and they just preferred if it was still there, because good ideas are bulletproof. I didn't have any contact with them except for one post we got via Survey Monkey after the page was back, asking if we have an extra admin spot for the UW Crushes 2.0 admin, but I cannot really guarantee if it was really them.
Two days after the citation was issued, the original UW Crushes site was re-activated. What led to that decision?
The power and choice of people led to that decision. I was hearing people all around talking about how they feel upset the page was taken down. Lots of our fans online were posting some stuff about how they wanted the old UW Crushes back. After Meg got that citation, everyone was talking about it and how she had to ruin such a brilliant idea. I started to feel how much the page is loved and admired by many. That's why I decided to make that strong comeback, and hopefully for the better.
Some general allegations against posts other than the one directed at Lanker-Simons have been made. Critics have said there were posts made that were "creepy" or exhibited stalker characteristics. Is this something you've observed? Any reaction to this?
In fact, this matter is proportional from one person to another as your fingers are not all the same. Some people just feel flattered when their name is mentioned even if the post is really defined as creepy, and some other people just feel uncomfortable when their name is mentioned even when the post is only showing a sincere admiration. Some agree that freedom of expression and the 1st amendment allow everyone to say whatever he/she wants even if it's inappropriately explicit. At the same time, the rest believe that posts that carry any sexual content might be advocating sexual harassment, violence, and rape culture which cannot be covered by the 1st amendment under any circumstances. Honestly, this issue seems to remain always argumentative and an open topic for discussion for the coming years. I only disagree with what is said that some posts exhibited stalker characteristics because stalkers are simply not waiting for UW Crushes to help them stalk further. Most of the posts are published with names already mentioned in, so it seems that the stalking process has been preceding the post itself a while ago. Seriously, I don't believe that Facebook profiles are telling that much for stalkers. The poster also being categorized by the word "stalker" itself, is a bit of an exaggeration.
Are there any kind of measures being put into place to avoid a similar incident? What are they?
After I republished the page, I pinned the page's new policies to the top of the page, so everyone can read them. I also wrote them down in the page's description section in order to let people be able to familiarize themselves with the new rules especially the new comers. I don't think I have to write them all here right now because they are kinda many but I'm pretty sure they are easy to get to on my page if you wanna go through them.
What are your official plans for the future of the UW Crushes site?
I don't have specific plans at the moment, but I'm always up for any new ideas that would make the page more fun and entertaining. I'm also excited and looking forward to the coming Fall semester as I'm sure there will be many freshman students taking part in this page. It's all about time, so let's just wait and see.
During the demonstration, there were some calls for you to come forward and reveal your identity. Do you anticipate a time when you might do this?
No, and I don't really wanna this to happen unless there are some urgent reasons that force me to do so. I also believe that revealing my identity means the end of UW Crushes because that is part of the game actually. Tell me why would people trust Mr. X Y and send him their secrets? They love the fact that they don't know who I am. They simply prefer to send their secrets to an anonymous rather than a known specific person, and I think we have proved so far that the poster's anonymity is really guaranteed in our page and we are showing a great sense of integrity. That way they would feel more safe and openly speaking. Believe me! if I was identified, the page wouldn't have gotten those many likes in this short period of time. That was absolutely sensational, no doubt about it. I think that revealing my identity will also cause a lot of controversy because I'm pretty sure I'm one of the least expected people to run a page like this. If you ask some random UW students to make a random guess about who the admin of UW Crushes is, there is a 100% probability that I won't be one of the options. As I previously mentioned, I don't like to be the center of attention, and I feel somehow that my identity, specifically, will bring even more attention than necessary.
Is there any comment or statement you'd like to get out to our audience that we haven't already addressed?
First of all, I would have to send my apologies on behalf of UW Crushes to all Republicans who got offended by Meg's post or by us posting it unintentionally. I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat, and I don't even like involving politics in such stuff meant for fun, but what happened necessitates us to show these people respect and declare that we will not ever again allow sick people like Meg to use our site for their fraudulent notions and attempts to foment hate against any political parties whether they are Republicans or Democrats. Yet, I also apologize and send my condolences to all Liberals who might feel harmed because of Meg's stupid act which was extremely unethical in a hysterical way. We all know that one person doesn't represent the whole, and don't let this one mistake stop your noble cause. If we really want the best for this country, we should all put our political conflicts and affiliations aside, spread love everywhere, unite, and share our different valid ideas hoping always for making this nation even better and greater. Finally, I would love to thank all our fans who supported us during that hard time and we hope that we will never let you down. With you, we can sail that boat. Love, Peace, and Unity