risk management

PostSecretU from Active Minds

Plan to hold a safe and positive PostSecretU event by following the guidelines below. Extensive information is also in the implementation guide included with each PostSecretU kit.


Put together a postcard review committee

To preserve the integrity of Frank Warren’s PostSecret project and the power of PostSecretU, Active Minds recommends that PostSecretU exhibits not be censored. Since some submitted secrets may be controversial or cause concern, we suggest the organizers set up a review committee to vet the postcards before they are displayed.

For campus-based PostSecretU events, we recommend the committee members include one or two student leaders as well as representatives from the counseling center, student affairs office, and the campus security/police department.

Follow these reviewer guidelines

Reviewers should keep in mind that the goal is to include as many cards as possible in the PostSecretU public display. The following are guidelines for removing, obscuring, or responding to submitted postcards.

  • There should be no identifying information (names, pictures, identifiable residence, etc.) included on any postcards. Organizers should cover, white out, or scratch out any identifying information or photographs.
  • Postcards containing nudity should be covered before being included in the display.
  • Postcards containing hate speech should be covered entirely with a note indicating “This postcard was omitted because it contains hate speech” and then included in the display.
    Hate speech is defined here as any communication that disparages a person or a group on the basis of some characteristic such as race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or other characteristic.
  • Postcards containing threats of violence to others should not be included.
  • Postcards containing a threat of violence to self can be included, but without identifying information. All postcards are accepted anonymously. Postcards containing a threat of violence to self may be included in the public display ONLY IF there is no identifying information or the identifying information has been omitted. If the submitter has in some way identified themselves and there is a safety concern, every effort should be made to notify counseling staff so they can contact the individual.
  • If especially controversial postcards are submitted that directly critique the organization or its leaders, relevant parties should be notified prior to the public display. One of the benefits of PostSecretU is its potential to raise important campus or organizational climate and policy issues. Some criticism is to be expected through an open forum such as PostSecretU. If a controversial postcard is submitted that the review committee wishes to display, let the relevant parties know of your intention ahead of time. Invite them to create their own responses via postcard. Also consider inviting the parties to attend the display and plan to facilitate a positive and constructive dialogue about the issue raised in the postcard.

Establish a plan to follow up on concerning postcards

Review committees should have a plan in place for addressing cards that contain identifying information along with a threat of violence to self or to others, hate speech, or evidence of criminal activity. These cards should be taken to campus or organizational security or police departments or other relevant administrators and leaders.

Look for identifying information carefully. It might be direct, in the form of a name or photograph. It could also be indirect, such as a photograph of a house, location, address, or through evidence of a membership group (e.g., specific sports team or fraternity).

Even if the review committee is not able to determine the identity of an individual, it should consider
whether the card might allow someone else to do so and whether it might provide useful information to the police in the rare case of an open investigation.

Develop a display security plan

Develop a plan to ensure the security of the display. Your plan should include strategies for discouraging vandalism and for preventing the posting of unsolicited postcards.

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