By Daniela Humphrey
Across campus, students constantly refresh their smartphone screens, waiting for a new post exposing someone’s secret. Suddenly, the words “Dearest Readers” appear on the screen, followed by a paragraph of text. Each student is excited for a fresh piece of gossip, but also worries that their own secrets will be revealed.
Washington College’s latest campus celebrity is Lady Whistledown, who amasses scores of upvotes posting the college’s gossip on the anonymous social media platform YikYak.
The anonymous posts, which expose students’ secrets, have continued to gain traction, leading students and adminstration alike to wonder if the administration should silence Lady Whistledown. While most members of the administration do not support Lady Whistledown – at least publicly – students are extremely divided on this issue.
During the most recent Student Government Association election, Lady Whistledown made a post accusing Campus Aesthetic Chair freshman Claire Johnson of committing election fraud in order to secure her position.
According to the post, Johnson bribed numerous SGA board members to support her candidacy by giving them Bass Pro Shop gift cards during a clandestine meeting in the basement of Minta Martin Hall.
Johnson, who was asked to step down from her position, admits to bribing officials but believes that Lady Whistledown should not have publicized her secret.
“I make one little mistake and Lady Whistledown uses it to ruin my life,” Johnson said. “I was born to help the aesthetically challenged…Lady Whistledown clearly doesn’t know what the people need.”
Although Johnson doesn’t approve of Lady Whistledown’s post, many members of the student body are grateful that the author broke the news.
“I don’t want anyone who gives or takes bribes to represent me,” sophomore Katherine Olsen said.
Without Lady Whistledown, Johnson’s schemes would have continued without any reparations. She is an integral part of the campus, holding nefarious students accountable when the administration will not.
While bribery and SGA election fraud are explicitly against the rules, Lady Whistledown also exposes behavior that breaks only unspoken social rules.
At the beginning of the spring semester, Lady Whistledown made a post asserting that sophomore Everett Mark, a ten-time The Morning Wood interviewee, drinks nothing but Diet Pepsi. The post received over 100 upvotes on YikYak.
Though the post seems harmless, Mark says that the reveal has led to many uncomfortable real-life interactions and conflicts.
“Everywhere I go, people keep telling me to drink water,” Mark said. “One time I was walking downtown and a townie started spraying me with a hose and screaming ‘Drink this!’”
Sophomore Helena Simon, who admitted to submitting an anonymous tip about Mark’s obsession with Diet Pepsi, believes that Lady Whistledown does important work on campus.
“Lady Whistledown gives students a platform,” Simon said. “No one listened to me until I told Lady Whistledown.”
Hopefully, Lady Whistledown’s post about Mark’s Diet Pepsi obsession will lead to healthier drink decisions for Mark. This example proves Lady Whistledown’s importance on campus; one post can single-handedly change the campus for the better.
Despite Lady Whistledown’s popularity, a group of students have been campaigning for members of the campus community to block and report her posts.
According to Johnson, the College has been rumored to be searching for her identity, presumably in order to discipline her for her posts.
The College has not taken any official action yet, but students, as always, are free to block or report any of Lady Whistledown’s posts.
Nevertheless, Lady Whistledown will persist.
According to a recent YikYak post from Lady Whistledown herself, “This author regrets to see the hostility with which the ton has approached her work of late, but does not intend to abandon her position.”
Students thoroughly support Lady Whistledown and are prepared to fight back if administration tries to silence her.
“George Washington believed in free speech; he wouldn’t have wanted Lady Whistledown to be silenced,” sophomore Marinda Forest said.
Photo by Eloise Bridgerton.
Photo Caption:The real-life Lady Whistledown, who reveals students’ secrets on the anonymous social media platform YikYak, has yet to be caught on camera.