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Promoting Change at BCC Through Social Media

Last updated on February 1, 2022

On Nov, 1, the @/ Instagram page posted its first account of sexual harassment, submitted by an anonymous student at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. The previous post from the Instagram page outlines its goal, which is “to give survivors a place to feel safe, validated, and to break the stigma of silence around sexual assault and harassment.”

This account is not the first in the trend of Instagram confession pages created for Baltimore students to submit anonymous stories. These confession account posts address issues of racism, homophobia, sexual assault.

One of the earlier school confession pages to appear on Instagram was the @/ page, publishing its first post in late June of 2020. The post was an orange fist, a symbol for the Black Lives Matter movement, and the caption read: “Although the heads of City are primarily Black, and [City] has a primarily Black student population, there [are] many racist and discriminatory experiences that have been swept under the rug. This page is for the black student voices of BCC to [be] heard.”

The page currently has 117 posts and sits at over 1,000 Instagram followers. It initially surged in popularity after a confession on the page exposed a White student for allegedly calling the viral murder of George Floyd “justified.”

The moderator of the @/ page started the page “…as a place for students of color, specifically Black students of color, to vent about their experiences at City. Especially, […] racist experiences.”

Since 2020, student criticism of Baltimore City College’s handling of racist and discriminatory student experiences has become commonplace. For many of these students, the problems within their school have gone unaddressed for too long.

“Everyone knows that something is wrong, but they don’t wanna be the person to call it out.” said Joshua Wilson, (‘22) “[The confession pages] lit a spark and a desire for internal improvement within the schools.”

The existence of the account led City’s school administrators to hold a meeting with several students, discussing how the school could do better when addressing racial discrimination. According to Joshua, Principal Cindy Harcum “promised they’d be more progressive when it came to student safety […] and we didn’t hear from her again after that.” Since that meeting was held, he noted that “not much has really changed.”

However, students from other schools have observed different outcomes after the popularity of these confession accounts.

A recent example of a school confession account gaining traction is the @/survivorsofbsa Instagram page. The page made its first post in March 2021, and the moderators behind it regularly addressed their complaints about the poor handling of sexual misconduct at Baltimore School for the Arts to the school administration.

On March 23, the account posted a screenshot of an email sent out by one of the moderators, addressed to the staff of BSA. The email said, “I’ve been at BSA for nearly three years and you all have failed your students…this pattern of sweeping incidents under the rug is going to end whether you like it or not.”

Mekhi Lee, a senior at BSA, agrees with the grievances put forth in the email, stating that “…the reason that the BSA page was started was because they weren’t listening in the first place. […] They weren’t really solving any of our problems.”

Other students and parents took notice of the page, as well as the administration of BSA, and the account was propelled into local news coverage. A swift response was prompted from both Baltimore City Public Schools and the administration of BSA, and they moved to implement changes based on the input of the students.

“I guess the news coverage can be good for solving situations like this because with everybody watching, everyone will want a solution,” Mekhi noted.

Schools rushing to formulate responses after confession pages like @/survivorsofbsa post mishandled accounts of harmful or discriminatory student experiences is evidently common.

After Baltimore Polytechnic Institute held an assembly on sexual assault in response to the social media popularity of the @/ Instagram page, many Poly students questioned the lateness of this response.

“It seemed like they were only addressing this problem because they had blown up on social media.” said Makensey Vanderberg, a senior at Poly.

Another student, Patricia Bindjeme, said, “I just want Poly to stop waiting for a push when things happen.”

When BSA student Mekhi Lee was asked about what he wanted his school to do differently, he said, “I want the administration to do their job, to be honest. Like, I feel like that’s all you can really want. I want people to be held accountable.”

Baltimore students all over the city echo this sentiment, wanting their schools to respond quickly and efficiently to student concerns, and the confession accounts display this desire.

“Adults never want to listen to kids until they’re dead,” said Makensey. “They never do.”

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