Controversial university student websites go offline

Two universities are applauding a decision to shut down a controversial website that offered an agony-aunt service to students, but also provided a platform for abusive and sexist comments.

UNBF and STU Confessions and Compliments featured relationship help, compliments and criticisms

The UNBF and STU Confessions and Compliments site has been shut down. (CBC)

Two universities are applauding a decision to shut down a controversial website that offered an agony-aunt service to students, but also provided a platform for abusive and sexist comments.

It was called UNBF and STU Confessions and Compliments.

The content ranged from seeking relationship help, to compliments, criticisms, and sexual encounters. Now they can add apologies to that list.

The University of New Brunswick student who started the site says he’s sorry if the content offended.

Student Bianca Arsenault didn’t think the site was all bad.

“The compliment part was good. Like there was some good stuff on it,” she said. “But the nasty, bullying, and like sexual harassment stuff like that wasn't ok.”

Caden Bass followed it for awhile, but lost interest.

“I feel that it was a great idea at the time, but as soon as all this sexual harassment thing came about I'm now glad that they decided to take it down. It was a good idea in theory,” he said.

Recently, the universities say they received a lengthy anonymous complaint. It was sent to both university presidents, and in it, it says that for some students the postings have meant they don't feel safe on campus.

Similar site taken down too

It went on to say that although administration doesn't have anything to do with the pages, they ask that they step in to stop the bullying and personal, anonymous attacks.

The threat of a defamation lawsuit can be harmful even if the lawsuit never happens, according to Hilary Young, a law professor at the University of New Brunswick. (CBC)
University officials said the student administrator decided to take it down. Another similar site, Spotted at STU, decided it would follow suit.

Assistant law professor Hilary Young says universities should be reticent about pushing for an entire site to come down.

“A lot of offensive speech, a lot of difficult speech, a lot of speech you don't want to hear, can actually be very valuable,” she said. “So we want to be very careful about when we take that speech down. There's a huge issue with the internet. Take downs are so easy.”

St. Thomas University’s Jeffrey Carelton admits the universities are now seeking legal advice on how to change their code of conduct to include cyberspace.