BBA: Behind Blueno’s Admins, EXCLUSIVE Interview

       This Sunday, I had the distinct honor of interviewing some of Brown’s most renowned: the Moderators of the Blueno Bears Admirers page. To maintain their anonymity, their names will not be mentioned during the course of the interview transcript. They will be referred to as Moderators 1 and 2 (numbers assigned by alphabetical order.)

This interview has been edited for clarity.

 

Why keep your identities a secret?

Moderator 2: To maintain the mystique of Blueno. We didn’t invent Blueno, and it’s not our symbol to define; we want people to have their own ideas of what Blueno means to them. It’s also easier to pour your heart out to a lovable, loving teddy bear instead of being self-conscious about the admins who run the page. And it’s harder to send us personalized hate mail when you don’t know who we are.

Moderator 1: On BBA, every post is anonymous, so to keep in style, we should be anonymous, too. We want to be cognizant that people of different backgrounds and identities can project themselves onto Blueno, and we don’t want to stand in front of that. We don’t want the dynamic to be swayed or changed by their perception of the people fronting everything, so we think we’ll stay behind the bear for now.

 

What made you decide to start Blueno?

Moderator 1: Because we’re a bunch of narcissists! Just kidding, there are other reasons, too. Our predecessor Brown Bears Admirers was like a little bit of magic on campus. It made people really happy. It was an important part of campus culture. There’s definitely still a need for that kind of a platform on campus. I had never received a BBA post about me, and I really wanted one, so I was like, hey guys, let’s make a platform for this.

Moderator 2: I really missed BBA after it disappeared in August. I find other online communities at Brown so interesting. They don’t just exist in isolation; people talk about them, and they shape the discourse on campus. They’re just Facebook pages, sure, but they can also legitimately affect people’s lives in a very tangible way. And of course, they’re always making people’s days a little brighter.

 

How did you start Blueno, and what was the process like?

Moderator 1: We’d been toying with the idea for a while. When Brown Bears Admirers disappeared, everyone on campus was like, “Where’d they go?” Including me. I wanted admiration posts. So, I started prototyping how people would submit things, the moderation process, all that. I ended up following the same tried-and-true Brown Bears Admirers model, primarily built on Google Forms, with a bunch of extra formulas and automation built into Google Sheets. I finished developing it around August, and our first post was on September 9 by (Moderator 2).

Moderator 2: I thought that was you!?

Moderator 1: No, I’m sure it was you.

Moderator 2: I remember the Blueno the Bear page already existed for years; you (Moderator 1) reached out to whoever ran it.

Moderator 1: Yeah, it was owned by a Brown student who graduated a few years ago. I decided to build the secret admirers page from the perspective of Blueno because I thought it would be cool. The Brown alum was down. I pulled the original BBA icon into Illustrator and Photoshop to make it look like Blueno, sort of a visual parody of the original, to communicate that we’re building from the original spirit of BBA.

 

What about the name?

Moderator 2: The page was initially just Blueno the Bear. But people referred to it as BBA, because it was easier and people knew that it meant the admirers page. So we changed the name to Blueno Bears Admirers.

 

What are some issues you face as moderators? What do you do with  controversial content? Do you ever receive any?

Moderator 1: We get controversial content every day. We have like hundreds, thousands of submissions, but we read and discuss every single one amongst the board of 8 undergraduate students. We spend so much time discussing and editorializing what we should post, and what we shouldn’t. The group chat is always rife with debate. Is this post being sex positive, or is it making an individual uncomfortable? Is this post celebrating an identity, or demeaning it?

Moderator 2: The point is, there’s a ton of social factors in play with everything we post—how does this post affect members of the community? If we censor it, how does that affect people with this identity?

Moderator 1: There’s this fascinating phenomenon where people dissociated from their own names and responsibilities suddenly talk about ethical matters they wouldn’t say out loud. For example, we had that recent controversy with TAs and RPLs “admiring” their students. A lot of people presume that it’s completely acceptable to be attracted to their students and post about it. This is ethically wrong, a potential abuse of power dynamics, and not to mention it directly violates Title IX. We instituted a rule against RPLs and TAs posting about their students in a sexual or romantic way since it was making people—myself especially—feel uncomfortable and unsafe. We got a really surprising amount of backlash for instituting that rule.

Moderator 2: We have some other rules that we’ve developed over time, for example, that it’s not okay to out people’s sexuality or gender without their explicit consent. We have a group chat where we check in five, ten times a day. So, yeah, we sometimes approve discourse-centric posts if they could lead to genuine productive conversations. We don’t want to silence discourse. The primary goal is to be a supportive, positive community. In terms of the discourse we choose to approve, there are a lot of negative outlooks. Sometimes we comment on posts right after we publish them, to directly respond to the post, set guidelines for the future, or to point toward helpful resources.

 

What do you do if you find a submission is addressed to you?

Moderator 1: I think I react the same way anyone else would. You feel warm and fuzzy, you smile a lot to yourself, then you message your friends, “Did you see this?” and “Who did this?” The only difference between my reaction and yours is that I then perform the narcissistic act of copying and pasting the post onto the page for all to see. Then there’s also the attacks. We censor attacks on other people, we don’t want people to feel hurt from this page. But some posts target us. We’re the only ones who have to see any hateful posts, but that’s sort of a negativity we set ourselves up for.

 

What are some perks of being a BBA moderator?

Moderator 2: Getting to see all the piping hot tea on campus first!

Moderator 1: You know how you open Facebook, and check if BBA updated? We open up a Google Sheet and see posts the second people click Submit. (To Moderator 2) Should I show her?

Moderator 2: Yeah, I think it’d be cool.

(Here, Moderator 1 demonstrated by posting a pending submission. The intake form was meticulously organised and color-coded.)

Moderator 1: We’re absolutely up to date with the drama on campus. I get to promote the voices of underrepresented identities on campus, especially narratives around LGBTQ people, people of colour – discourse people might shy away from if their names were attached to them.

 

When we messaged the original BBA, they said they’re “in transition.” Are they your competition? If so, what will you do when/if they resurface?

Moderator 1: It would be great if they came back. If people wanted to migrate back to them, that’s great! We can’t change that. I’d probably go back to using them. As long as there’s a social platform for positive, anonymous voices on campus, moderated in a socially responsible way, I’m happy. Until then, we’re going to keep having fun.

Moderator 2: We messaged them during the summer and asked if they wanted any help. They said they were “in transition and working on it”. They put out one round of posts in August, then nothing. Then we started Blueno to fill the void and we’ve been able to be much more active. So I’m not holding my breath.

 

What are Blueno’s opinions about Rodent versus Ratty?

Moderator 1: Blueno prefers The Ratty, but he forgives anyone who calls it the “Rodent” if—

Moderator 2: If they leave him a present in mailbox number **** (Moderator 2’s mailbox number censored for anonymity)

 

Does Blueno have any admirers? Who would he admire if he could?

Moderator 1: Everyone knows Blueno has a crush on the Nelson bear. Who doesn’t. He’s buff as hell.

Moderator 2: How could he not? There’s also a torrid past between Blueno and the rock tree, but why bring up history?

Moderator 1: And Marcus Aurelius on equestrian has been eyeing Blueno for quite some time, but who knows when he’ll make a move.

 

What does Blueno mean to you?

Moderator 2: Well, there was initially a lot of controversy about the statue, his funding.  And obviously, lots of schools have a bear as their mascot. But Blueno is his own thing, his own icon, he’s not just a generic teddy bear. Blueno is unique to Brown, Blueno is blue—

Moderator 1: Blueno is blue? Hot-take.

Moderator 2: Thank you. He’s quirky, a little weird, but we still love him. That says a lot about the Brown community. He’s gonna leave eventually,  and I’m sad about that. But Blueno’s legacy at Brown will be here a long time even after he’s gone – ideally, with Blueno Bears Admirers sticking around as long as people want it. Blueno sort of gives us a new life, especially if you consider student activities in his hollow interior.

Moderator 1: If BBA was responsible for your relationship, you’re welcome. If you get married to someone you found on BBA, you are contractually obliged to fly us out to your wedding. (Reporter’s note: The Blog was unable to verify this claim.)

Moderator 2: I think it’s fun how different Blueno is from the statue – he doesn’t stand for the same ideals, and he’s a fun piece of campus culture.

Moderator 1: It’s very representative of our generation, that we’re able to make light of and personify big, unchangeable things. He’s become a part of campus culture. We’ve had some amazing artwork come in from illustrators on College Hill; we had one for National Coming Out Day and one for Halloween—shoutout to Felix Summ and Julia Chu! The world seems really bleak right now, and I think we need more fun, happy things on campus. Untitled Lamp/Bear is going away in a few years, but we’re all creating Blueno, and there’s some permanence in that.


Blogify: Where is the Love?

While the Biebers and Grandes of the world have tons of popularity, there are tons of incredible artists that don’t have the same reach. To quote William Adams Jr., Stacy Ferguson, Allan Lindo, and Jaime Gómez, “Where is the Love?”

For this week’s Blogify, we’ve compiled a playlist of staff favorite tunes that don’t have millions of Spotify plays, or billions of YouTube views. In fact – with a couple of exceptions – they have fewer than 100,000 listens on Spotify.

You heard ‘em here first.

Wake Up – Lawrence
This song is an irrefutable jam. Plus Lawrence is headlined by Clyde Lawrence ’15 – and just opened for Blues Traveler. Get it into your rotation.

Mayor Bloomberg (Giant Margarita) – Awkwafina
It’s hilarious. A satirical-ish song about a girl worrying that giant margaritas are also going to get banned as part of NY’s almost-ban on large sugary drinks. “Please don’t take my freedom, my giant margarita.” This song is the voice of a SWUG generation. –Steph Hojsak

HiyHiy by Lostboycrow
So. Fucking. Catchy. Makes me feel like a badass walking to work. –Sydney Mondry

Demo – King Mez
King Mez has river-like flow, was featured thrice on Dr. Dre’s Compton, and his highest played song only has 12,000 plays on Spotify? Messed up.

285 – Kitty
When she raps, she’s got all the flow and wit (maybe even more) than ‘mainstream’ rappers. Along with some wonderful rapped lyrics, the song also has a techno-pop hook and chorus. Like come on. ‘Never bitter, never sounding rude/and positive, I milk it like a cow, I moo’ – Steph Hojsak

Tonight – Matt Simons
Ok I’ll admit I cheated on this one – it’s got the most listens on Spotify on this playlist (438,000) but it really should have 43.8 million at least. So its inclusion is justified. See also, Can’t Have by Steven A. Clark.

Halfheartedly – The Rare Occasions
They are a local band (students from Tufts and Berklee) but they are amazing musicians and have won major national songwriting awards. –Julia Ella

Go Back – Darlingside
They have beautiful harmonies/arrangements plus the song is sorta based off Back to the Future. –Sarah Campbell Tucker

Cry, Cry, Cry – Judith Hill
You will like this jazzy jam if you like Amy Winehouse, or just music in general.

But in the Movie Baby – Band of Gold
“A great ‘walk to class with swag’ song (especially in the rain)” –Charlotte Bilski

Iko Iko – Aaron Carter
This song was included because I was shocked to learn that a song I listened to over a hundred thousand times in second grade actually has fewer than a hundred thousand plays on Spotify.

Tea, Milk & Honey – Oh Pep!
I discovered the song / them on NPR Tiny Desk Concerts, and it sort of feels like two songs in one, which is fun. Really beautiful folk-y tune, and awesome vocals. –Sydney Mondry

Listen here:


Students Who Do Cool Things: Super Heavy Petting

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Right in the middle of midterm season is a beautiful oasis of cuteness: Super Heavy Petting. The event is basically just an impromptu petting zoo out in front of the Ratty, but it’s fucking inspiring, especially considering how stressed out we all are. While this campus is comprised of students with extremely varying interests, fuzzy animals are something we can all agree on. An amazing sample of students showed up to the event, so BlogDH talked with them to see cool things they were up to.These are there stories:

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Name: Harvey Kalen
Concentration: Undeclared, but likely Sociology

Harvey Kalen ’18 can’t believe it’s almost November. Although he laments that his second year at Brown is already going by so quickly, he’s certainly taken every step possible to ensure his time on campus is meaningful. Kalen’s initiative, “Sharing / No Credits,” or S/NC for short, aims to match upperclassmen with credit-endowed freshmen. In Kalen’s words, “There are so many, even too many, freshmen who got the 40 meal a week plan, and are now realizing they mostly subsist on Chobani.” Kalen’s plans for the pairing program are still in planning, but you can expect to hear a lot more from him and S/NC towards the end of the school year.

 

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Name: Cleo Shiles
Concentration: Astronomy & Physics

No stranger to the cosmos, Cleo Shiles ‘17.5 is hard at work on her thesis on inter-dimensional time travel. Inspired by the Back To The Future franchise as a child, Shiles has devised a flux capacitor of her own that she suspects will have the ability to traverse time. We ran into Shiles at Heavy Petting although she wasn’t there for the animals, but merely waiting outside to sign for her newly ordered Delorean.

 

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Name: Turkey Jones

Concentration: Applied Mathematics

Always a lover of math and computer science, Turkey Jones ’17 is trying to create an algorithm that would be able to predict the winners of each Brown football game by accounting for numerous factors, such as pass-completion rates and ambient temperature. Unfortunately, Turkey can’t count past 14, so the process has been difficult. Good luck, Turkey!

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How to convince your high school friends college has made you cool

We all love our high school friends, but the distance of college allowed us to grow and change without the constraints of people who knew our high-school selves. Our status as ~college~ students obviously makes us superior as shit, because no parents, no rules, and we’re killing the game. Despite the fact that all of our high school friends are also in college, we still need to prove that we are more college than they are, because let’s be real – it’s all a competition to prove how well adjusted and cool we are.

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But on top of wanting to seem hip and awesome, we also want our school to trump theirs in every way possible. It’s the inevitable comparison of colleges, just like the inevitable comparison of Christmas present every year, except a lot more expensive and a lot more pretentious.

It’s easy to flaunt our newfound coolness through carefully edited Instagrams and thoughtfully crafted tweets about how good the dining hall food, but all the fancy facades are gone when the high school friends step on campus. Since Brown only has a Fall Weekend instead of a Fall Break, unlike all other respectable schools, it makes us particularly prone to friends visiting while gallivanting around on their absurdly long break (the longest I’ve heard is one and a half weeks — what???).

In light of that possibility, here are a few DOs and DON’Ts of making sure high school friends know how cool you think you are.

 

DO make sure that your alcohol supply is on full display in your dorm room. And leave around a few empty bottles while you’re at it. This is your friend’s first impression of the new-college-you, so you have to make sure it’s one that implies near alcoholic.

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apparently yes

DON’T let them see you actually do work. Remember, you want to seem like you have it together (they might report back to your parents) and acting stressed is a dead give away. Plus, it gives the impression that you’re super successful without even trying.

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Students who do cool things: Danny Sobor ’15, artist and creator of Milk Supply Co.

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Danny Sobor ’15 has pioneered several art ventures on campus. But for his 21st birthday he decided to go above and beyond anything he’s done in the past by founding a new company, Milk Supply Co. We picked his brain on this unique new clothing line, whose first collection just dropped this Thursday.

BlogDailyHerald: What exactly is Milk Supply Co.?

Danny Sobor ’15: Milk Supply Co. is a psychedelic street wear and design company, Providence-based but Chicago-inspired. It’s really based on the people and experiences I grew up with for the first 18 years of my life. I also came back home for the first time in two years this summer and being back home really made me reevaluate things and this was me looking back on where I grew up and trying to visually represent it. Another inspiration was a good friend of mine, Miles, who died after a five-year bout with brain cancer last January. His passing inspired me to do something with my time.

BlogDH: You said that it was a “psychedelic company,” could you elaborate more on that?

Danny: [Laughs] Sorry mom. The PC version is that it is inspired by conscious alteration. Being the same person, but you know seeing the world a little differently. We used to trip and just experience the city [Chicago] and walk around the city and I think that has heavily influenced the way I draw. The patterns I draw I feel like I’ve seen tripping, and then see them continually coming around in the world. In Native American art, in Japanese art, and other forms.

milk acid coloring

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Secret Sundays! #1

Brown University is an eclectic place–like a hipster Hogwarts–so shouldn’t it have some cool secret places to match? Secret Sundays isn’t exactly going to break the news on a Brown ‘Room of Requirement’, but these are the kinds of places where, if you found them on the Brown University video game, there would be a little chime sound and some treasure. But we’re not going to tell you where they are…the photo’s just a hint–do some exploring on your lazy Sunday!

Our first secret spot is a room on campus where you’re not only allowed, but encouraged to paint on the walls. Just remember to clean off your brushes for the next set of explorers. Happy hunting!