You’ve probably heard of the infamous social media account under the name “U of Tears”: a sometimes dark, sometimes wholesome, but mostly comedic Instagram account that publishes anonymous confessions of U of T students.
With 19.1 thousand followers, it’s apparent that @uoftears_ has gained notability within the school community. Its growth is not surprising considering the nature of its posts, which range from hot takes, secret kinks, and love triangles to students’ hopes, worries, dreams, and contemplations of the future. The shock factor and absurdity of the account undeniably gain attention.
If you look beyond the immediate humour and entertainment, @uoftears_ is an outlet for students to create a community. In my view, the account provides comedic relief from the overwhelming academic experience at U of T, allows students to criticize and address some of the struggles they face at large, and also provides a space for students to reach out, connect, or simply vent.
@uoftears_ makes student community more accessible
Let’s face it: you probably didn’t choose U of T because of its insane party reputation, as we don’t even make the list of best party schools in Canada. Having a great social life here at U of T is possible, but student life and school spirit aren’t what the university is known for. It’s safe to assume that U of T is attractive mainly because of its high ranking in different publications such as Times New Higher Education or QS World University Rankings.
Although U of T students should be proud to be a part of a top-ranked university, U of T also holds a reputation for being a depressing and rigorous school. There are probably a number of reasons why U of T gained this reputation of being a cold, soul-crushing hellscape — especially during winter finals.
I believe social gatherings and student communities are not so easy to foster in this environment due to a mix of Toronto weather that freezes you to the bone, the colossal student population of 97,678 in 2022–2023, the nature of a commuter school with around 75 per cent of its students commuting to campus every day, and the unfortunate layout of U of T’s campuses alone.
With three sprawling campuses, it is difficult to run into the same people and form a large school community. The St. George campus is spread out, separated by streets, and placed across a bustling city, while UTSC and UTM are isolated from the downtown core altogether.
As a UTSC student, I can attest to the difficulties of finding community on campus. Social clubs are hard to find, as most groups at UTSC are academics related, such as Health Occupations Students of America or the Biology Students Association. On top of that, the few groups I see at UTSC that are not academically associated — such as the Visual Arts Club or Prestige UTSC — do not hold weekly gatherings for club members, making it difficult to engage with the same people often.
The lack of social clubs and opportunities for social gatherings makes meeting people outside of class difficult. It is rare that all U of T students come together as one body, and for those who don’t participate in clubs or their college’s events, U of T can be a very solitary experience.
In my view, one of the only things that U of T students can bond over is these negative facets of the school. @uoftears_ has often provided an outlet for students to communicate their dissatisfaction.
Despite the vast separation, the account is relatable to U of T students across all campuses. Not only is its shocking, funny, and sometimes controversial content a humorous or entertaining break from schoolwork, but it also addresses this often gloomy and dispiriting nature of U of T.
Through @uoftears_, U of T students from all three campuses can relate and connect through social media. Those who commute large distances daily may not get the chance to bump into the same people or stay long enough on campus to join groups or clubs. Being online allows accessibility by allowing everyone to connect — and I believe this is the spirit of Instagram, after all. Even if it’s only through the comments on a post, some may feel less alone and more in touch with their peers online than in person.
Connecting people with humour, criticism, and a sense of closure
On a lighter note, the account’s main purpose is for entertainment; a good laugh can be a saving grace at the end of a long day. U of T is a tough school, and university is tough in general. Sometimes, the small jokes, silly — or “humorously shocking” — confessions, and relatable rants are necessary to recover and reset from academics.
The name “U of Tears” is meant to poke fun at U of T’s somewhat soul-crushing nature. The essence of @uoftears_ is satirical and comedic at its root. It’s a place for people to satirize aspects of the school and jokingly connect over shared experiences at U of T.
@uoftears_ often posts confessions that rightfully criticize this school’s environment. I think that acknowledging and recognizing the school’s flaws makes others feel a little less alone.
The mental health of university students nationwide is understandably challenging. Postsecondary students have barely recovered from the effects of COVID-19, and U of T’s closed-off, academically concentrated culture doesn’t seem to help. Oftentimes, confessions and criticism bring attention to these aspects of school and help acknowledge that they exist. @uoftears_’ raising awareness is important for students to step back and recognize the flaws of this institution.
The confessions account also gives a platform to student voices in their most unfiltered and unapologetic tone possible, as everything posted on it is anonymous. Some confessions are lighthearted, while others are a whirl of emotions.
Either way, readers and commenters may feel more seen or heard when they relate to a post, or even just a little less stressed when they come upon a more humorous one. Sympathy, support, and honest advice on the platform allow students to engage with one another.
The Instagram page provides a place for students to relate to one another beyond the scope of school and create a student community. Overall, @uoftears_ is one of the few places that welcomes every U of T student to let them connect, share, criticize, or even cry — and it is also a hub for students to raise awareness of our school’s flaws.
Alyssa Villar is a second-year student at UTSC studying human biology and biochemistry.