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Shhh! Read BU Secret Postcards

Bulletin boards display artwork (and secrets)

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In the slide show above, see postcards with secrets from BU students.

Here’s a challenge: distill a heinous secret into tweet-like format, package it artistically on a postcard, and post it for everyone to see.

Examples:

“Sometimes I shower with my Brita,” with a clipping of a showerhead sprinkling water on Brita containers.

Or, “My friends and I stole the Myles Standish Hall sign off of the side of the building and turned it into a beer pong table.”

And, “I am so aware of wrists ever since it happened,” with a picture of a girl in a gown, red ink slashes across her wrists.

These secrets are a few of the hundreds students submitted over a two-week period for BU Secret, an undertaking organized by Active Minds, a student organization devoted to increasing awareness of mental health issues. All are now available for viewing.

“A lot of times students don’t feel that they have an outlet to express their voice,” says Becky Gordon (CAS’10), copresident with Laura Marcucci (CAS’10) of Active Minds. “This gives them an opportunity.”

Launched on March 17, BU Secret encourages students to share something they’ve never revealed — hilarious, quirky, deep, or sad — on a postcard displayed at one of three sites around campus. Anonymity is guaranteed.

The idea springs from Frank Warren’s PostSecret phenomenon. Since 2004, Warren has collected secrets from hundreds of thousands of anonymous postcard writers. He has published four books of cards and updates a blog each Sunday with new arrivals.

Marcucci says Warren has been supportive of the organization and its campus PostSecret-like events.

“As long as we don’t make a blog, then its okay,” she says. Active Minds dubbed the event BU Secret to avoid legal issues or confusion with Warren’s efforts.

Rene Acosta (CAS’10) and Sean Link (CAS’10) review the last group of postcards received for BU Secret, as Active Minds copresident Laura Marcucci (CAS’10) looks over their shoulders. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Active Minds distributed 10,000 postcards in on-campus student mailboxes and another 10,000 at the George Sherman Union and in student apartment vestibules. Every card had a sticky note attached to the back providing contact information for Behavioral Medicine, the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, and the Samaritans of Boston suicide hotline.

More than 800 postcards were returned to drop-off boxes at the GSU Link and in dining halls in West Campus, Warren Towers, and Myles Standish Hall. Cards underwent a two-stage review process, Marcucci says. Active Minds students sorted them to ensure all entries were anonymous and that content was not offensive. A panel of three Behavioral Medicine professionals reviewed and vetted any flagged cards.

Gordon says they kept criteria loose to invite as many voices as possible and to break down the stigma of “taboo issues.” Only two were rejected by the March 31 deadline.

“We really want to bring together the campus community,” she says. “Oftentimes, students feel isolated. If they’re going through something, they feel they’re alone.”

All qualifying cards are now available for viewing on bulletin boards at the Warren, West, and Myles Standish dining halls. Displays include a list of on-campus mental health resources and a map showing the location of Behavioral Health. The idea, according to Marcucci and Gordon, is that those who submitted cards or read something that strikes a painful chord will have access to on-campus services.

So take a look. Don’t be afraid to smile or find a path to help — or both.

To celebrate the BU Secret launch, Active Minds has organized a concert and poetry slam at BU Central, GSU lower level, 775 Commonwealth Ave., on Saturday, April 3, at 9 p.m., featuring Chordially Yours and In Like Lions. Admission is free with BU ID. Doors open at 8:30 p.m.

Leslie Friday can be reached at lfriday@bu.edu; follow her on twitter @lesliefriday.

9 Comments

9 Comments on Shhh! Read BU Secret Postcards

  • Anonymous on 04.02.2010 at 10:37 am

    Kudos

    Laura did a great job marketing BU Secret. Her everpresence all over campus really reinforced the event’s name and brandname.

    As for the campaign itself, I think it is so incredibly innovative, refreshing and relatable. The from the example postcard in the slide show was tastefully done, as was the intentional diversity in the postcards’ content.

    Great job, and I really think publishing this is in book would make your campaign even more effective, while bring in more funds for your club in the future.

  • Anonymous on 04.02.2010 at 8:34 pm

    Becky did a great job marketing BU Secret too :)
    -Laura :)

  • Anonymous on 04.22.2010 at 10:11 pm

    I loved BU Secret — it was honestly one of the most liberating things I have ever participated in. My only regret is that I didn’t get a chance to see all of the secrets (I wanted to look for mine too!). I heard rumors about a book being made out of these — is this true? I would definitely pay for one!

  • Anonymous on 03.23.2011 at 3:59 pm

    It says ”All are now available for viewing”

    where? In the college?

  • Gay persons mom on 03.23.2011 at 8:14 pm

    Honey, we already know, in fact we probably knew before you did.

  • Anonymous on 03.24.2011 at 10:08 pm

    My school in Canada is doing this as well (Guelph) and just wanted to send along encouragement! It is awesome what you are doing :)

  • Class of 93 on 03.27.2011 at 9:59 am

    I wish BU had done something like this when I was a student there! The university seems much more devoted to building a true community of students than it was 20 years ago.

  • Anonymous on 03.28.2011 at 1:33 pm

    To celebrate the BU Secret launch, Active Minds has organized a concert and poetry slam at BU Central, GSU lower level, 775 Commonwealth Ave., on Saturday, April 3, at 9 p.m., featuring Chordially Yours and In Like Lions. Admission is free with BU ID. Doors open at 8:30 p.m.

    April 3 is on Sunday, not Saturday.
    BU Central does not have this event on their calendar.
    What is the admission without a BU ID?

  • Leah on 04.24.2011 at 6:50 pm

    "Heinous"?

    BU Secret Postcards is a great project, but I have one tiny hang-up. Am I the only person who took offense at Leslie Friday’s wording? “Here’s a challenge: distill a heinous secret into tweet-like format, package it artistically on a postcard, and post it for everyone to see.” So all these secrets are “heinous?” Including the one that says “Mom, Dad – I’m Gay”?
    Not cool, Leslie…

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