Hurling online insults is easy when you’re anonymous. Putting a name to that invective changes everything—and that’s what University of Southern California (USC) freshman Haley Winters is banking on.
Winters created an online petition March 21 asking college students to pledge to use their names in posts on the website CollegeACB.com, described by its creator as an “anonymous confession board” with more than 20 million monthly page views.
The petition asks students to sign their names and pledge to take “the anonymous out of CollegeACB.”
Winters, a theatre major from New York City, said the website has fostered a culture of cyber bullying across the USC campus, but especially among members of the Greek community. Visitors are asked to rank sorority members by appearance, for example, and sexual exploits—real or imagined—are described in detail for all to see.
“I was really taken aback by the level of viciousness displayed on the site,” said Winters, 19, a member of the university’s Delta Delta Delta Sorority who first found CollegeACB when she came to the USC campus last fall.
The online petition comes after seven months of “wishing someone would do something about this site. And I realized that by me not doing anything, I’m basically just fueling it and accepting it.”
Winters also created a Facebook page that serves mostly as a rallying point for 235 college students who see CollegeACB as a socially destructive force on campus. Winters’ petition had about 150 signatures as of press time—a total she is “not satisfied with at all.”
“This has become our version of Star Magazine—we get to rag on each other without any accountability,” she said. “There are absolutely no consequences here … and it’s starting to seep into the actual social life of the campus and affect the way people treat each other.”