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Burlington reveals its secrets

Students post secrets on new website

Published: Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Updated: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 16:02

Suicide, sex and drugs are the types of personal issues that students don't always share with the world.

However, BTownSecrets.com is a new website designed for students in the Burlington area to post anonymous secrets, comment on the secrets of others and receive advice and opinions.

Creators Craig Durham and Zach Cohn started the idea with BuffSecret.com in Boulder, Colo., and are excited for how the site is going to help students in Burlington.

"We soon found the site to be an amazing way to get kids talking about serious issues and get help for their problems," Durham said.

After providing college students with a place to speak their minds, they began uncovering issues that they thought warranted professional help.

"Some secrets scared me," Cohn said. "Neither of us were qualified to deal with them so we began forwarding some secrets to a group called the JED foundation."

The JED Foundation is the nation's leading organization working to reduce emotional distress and prevent suicide among college students, according to its website.

"It's just amazing how well they've responded in Boulder, the site has become a thriving community," Durham said. "We now receive responses from over 5,000 people a month."

It is so popular because it is anonymous, he said. "It brings people together who otherwise would never be communicating."

However, the purpose of the site is not purely social, Cohn said.

"There was a site similar to ours called JuicyCampus.com, but it got shut down. It was very big at Boulder, and very entertaining, but it became nasty very quickly." he said. "We wanted to create something equally as entertaining but we wanted to add a positive spin to it."

Their websites are created with guidelines in order to maintain a fairly positive light, Cohn and Durham said. There are no names allowed, and every single comment and secret is approved before it is posted.

"When somebody posts a secret, they shouldn't be criticized for it. It's a place to share and to feel safe," Durham said.

With their first day of real publication last Tuesday, and the website just barely set up, the new Burlington site, BTownSecrets.com, already receives responses from about 50 people per day, Durham said.

There are a lot of connections between Burlington and Boulder, Cohn said.

"Burlington is an artsy, cool and unique place — the epitome of a college town. I lived here for a year on School Street. We have friends that go to UVM. We met a lot of people at [Colorado University] who were from Burlington and we just really wanted to come up here," he said.

With their new Burlington site up and running, the two said they are starting to build a team of student interns from surrounding colleges such as UVM and Champlain.

"We don't want to be viewed as outsiders. The whole thing is local. We want it to be for the community and to engage the community," Durham said. "It's really our goal to have a site like this one in every college town, whether its Burlington, Boston or Boulder."

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