By Melissa Proulx, Staff Writer
For the last few years, UNH Confessions has doubled as a guilty pleasure for the more than 11,000 likers of the page and an anonymous outlet for others in the community. However, a recent post by one anonymous, female Wildcat caught the attention of her peers and changed its purpose.
“Someone stole 300 dollars from me at 15 Madbury tonight, and I would just like to let anyone who did that to me to know I work three jobs,” the girl’s post began. “I take a full course load. My dad died last year from a 3 and a half year battle [sic.] with cancer. I sat through his wake and funeral alone because his family hates me and my brother was in military commitment where he couldn’t speak to me for two weeks after my dad’s heart stopped beating. After his funeral, his wife continued to sue me, so I hope you know the money you stole from me was how I was paying my rent and my food and my entire life.”
Quickly after the confession was posted, Michael Barnard, the junior soon-to-be communications major who runs the page, said that he saw a call to action.
“What I saw a lot of people saying was, ‘There should be a GoFundMe set up,’ or ‘I would donate,’ or ‘I bet a lot of Wildcats would donate,’” he said. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is the perfect opportunity to do something nice.’”
By using Tilt, an online tool to collect, fundraise or pool money that Barnard is a University of New Hampshire ambassador for, he was able to raise all the money and then some, thanks to the help of two donors. The campaign lasted a total of three days and in total, $724 was raised for the Wildcat.
“[The girl who the fundraiser was for] sent me a follow up message that I didn’t post on Confessions,” Barnard said. “But I sent it to all the contributors, giving [them] her personal thanks, through the Tilt.”
Though he won’t deny his role, Barnard has remained the somewhat hidden face behind the continuously popular Facebook page.
“Sometimes, if there’s something big that happens, I’ll make up my own post about it,” he said. “But I’m not really going to take credit for the things that other students do.”
Started during the first semester of 2013, he never really expected the page to be as popular as it is now, with an average post reaching about 50,000 individuals in all.
“[When I first started Confessions,] I just went back on to my page and sent it to 20, 30 different people,” he said. “I woke up, and I thought there were going to be six likes, but then there was like 50.”
After stumbling upon the model he had seen used by the University of Colorado Boulder on a friend’s page, Barnard decided to take action and make one for UNH.
“We have to make UNH look good because a lot of cool stuff happens here,” he said.
This is the first time Barnard has done fundraising like this for another student, though he has helped out other members of the community in the past. Last year, after receiving a message in which the writer warned that they were planning on committing suicide, Barnard made a noble choice, saying that he went right to the police to make sure they got the help they needed.
In the future, he hopes to be able to help out those who might be in similar situations and continue to do his part to support his community.
“I don’t want people writing fake stories to get money, but I think UNH could easily raise funds if it was for the right thing,” he said.
And though posts have been somewhat slowing down this past year, a change Barnard credits to the rise of the app Yik Yak, he believes that the community that Confessions created will continue to thrive.
“It’s a place to support students if they have something wrong going on in their life,” he said. “People can just help each other out and just show Wildcats that they care.”