Senior Jessica Beal walked toward the Student Psychology Association board and took in the display before her. The board looked nothing like it does today — devoid of boxes and secrets. She moved her hand toward an index card on which someone wrote with scribbled red Sharpie, “The man who raped me at age 7 still comes to Christmas Dinner every year.”
Beal, co-president of SPA, is the creator of IC Secrets, a collaborative project of the Ithaca College Student Psychology Association that allows students to share their innermost thoughts through an anonymous, creative outlet.
Beal said she found inspiration for the project from PostSecret, a world-renowned art project started by Frank Warren on a Blogger website in 2005, which allows people to anonymously mail their secrets on one side of a postcard. Select postcards have been featured in a series of five books.
“It’s something that the entire campus could get involved in if we could get the word out far enough, if we could get our fingertips reaching out to those further students that we wouldn’t normally reach in SPA,” Beal said.
Beal brought her initial idea to the club in August. Members then worked together to place submission boxes around campus.
The purpose of IC Secrets is to provide a therapeutic route for students to voice what is going on in their heads in a way that is creative, cathartic and inspiring. This connects to SPA’s mission of helping the community psychologically because students can relate to each other through the secrets, Beal said.
Junior Kirstin Auer, marketing leader for SPA, said the scope of the project brings these connections to light because they are posted in a public place.
“You sort of feel like if you do see that secret on that board, and it is something you can relate to, it’s like someone here can relate to me,” Auer said.
Sophomore Nancy Riccardi, SPA vice president, said submissions range from serious to hilarious secrets.
“You’ll read one that’ll tug on your heart and be sad and feel compassion for this person, and the next one, you’ll be laughing out loud to yourself,” she said.
The SPA bulletin board displays 20 of the 30 secrets submitted so far. Next to an index card decorated like an iPod that reads, “I still listen to NSYNC” is a blurred photograph of a person looking into a rippling puddle of water with the words “I’m not as INTERESTING once you get to know me. Sorry.”
Sophomore Meaghan O’Donnell, who submitted a secret to SPA, said she had a hard time figuring out what she wanted to share.
“I’m a very open person, so I didn’t really know what to come up with, but then I thought about secrets that obviously my close friends knew … but people who don’t really know me don’t know,” she said.
After submitting her secret, she enjoyed the privacy that the project maintained.
“No one knows who submitted a secret,” O’Donnell said. “I don’t even know who read my secret, so its pretty anonymous on both ends.”
Collection boxes for IC Secrets can be found across campus and are currently located in the Counseling Center, Campus Center, Dillingham Center and Williams Hall.
Despite the success of the project so far, the collection box in Campus Center has disappeared twice, once in October and again in November. SPA does not know what happened to the box or if any secrets were inside of it when it went missing. Beal said some theories are that the box fell down, that it was stolen or that administration took it down.
“It was kind of annoying, but we thought we’d just replace it and put another one up,” she said. The second time we thought, ‘Why does this keep happening?’ We were getting a little frustrated about it.”
However, this frustration was small compared to the satisfaction Beal gets from the project.
“I was really excited that SPA came together and was passionate about something,” she said.
Beal said this project rejuvenated SPA’s activity. Before the project, the club had fallen into a rut and did not do much beyond meet every other week. IC Secrets provided a focus for the club’s attention.
The success from IC Secrets motivated the club to take on other projects, such as efforts to revive the Senior Psychology Dinner, an event formerly run by SPA that has since ended.
Eventually, SPA hopes IC Secrets will grow large enough to have a bulletin board in Campus Center that is updated with new cards every other Sunday.
Beal said the club is trying to bring SPA back to their former glory by taking on more projects that use psychology to bring the campus together and attract the attention of students.
“We want to connect as a group, as a major, but also to connect as a community,” she said.
SPA meets in Williams 119M every other Monday at 7:00 p.m.