First things first, my new post is up on Her Campus so click here to check it out, it’s a bit of a follow up to my last blog post— it gets a little personal but that’s why it’s important.
Anyway, happy Friday everyone! It’s been a long week. I was reading some sonnets for homework the other day when this phrase popped into my head for no reason, that one parents like to use as almost a guilt trip: “if all your friends jumped…” I’m sure you know the rest, right? Back in my day, if I ever wanted to skip homework because no one else did it anyway or ask for a pair of shoes cause everyone else had them, my mom would ask me that question. There was really no disputing it at that point.
It’s like trying to argue with “because I said so.”
I mean, if everyone believes in something or just because they are doing something, does that mean we should do the same?
After an intense weekend of studying and protesting and more orientation WOW training shaped in light of recent events, things on this campus feel very different than when we left for spring break almost a month ago. To be honest, that still seems weird to say when the truth of the matter and this campus hasn’t really changed at all; only our awareness has.
Like I said, once the glass breaks, there’s no going back. I’ve just never really felt it break like this on such a large scale.
With the Greek system shut down until who knows when and racist flyers appearing in several buildings on campus among other things, no one here is in a good place right now because none of us have any idea what happens next. This entire thing isn’t even about political views or whether or not racism is wrong— I think we’ve established at this point that it is and always will be— this is a bigger problem than Greeks, or Cal Poly, or education…
So what is the problem?
Well, if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too? Sometimes people get caught up in a movement or attend a school that they are inherently a part of, whether they agree with every aspect of it or not. Take our fraternity and sorority life on campus— just because they’re all a part of the same system that allowed for many of these problems to occur, is every person involved with Greek organizations at fault? Similarly, if people are part of a movement or an ideal that they support and one person in that movement does something wrong, then it’s a question of culpability by association.
When I protested on Friday with everyone, I can tell you I did not believe in every chant we yelled or action we took. I was there for the ideals we stood for and the solidarity we were aiming to display, but not every movement is perfect and everything in these past few weeks have been far from it.
Yet I stood with them even when I disagreed with a chant because I did agree with the principle; maybe that puts me at fault, I really don’t know. But if something is wrong and you see it’s wrong— I’m not talking opinions but blatant acts against simple humanitarian values like telling people to go kill themselves or saying one race is worth less than another— someone has to speak up whether they’re a close friend, as difficult as that can be, or not. And if you’re a part of something that seems to be going in the wrong direction, maybe it’s best to get out of it. Sort of like how if the weekends protests turned violent or attacked people rather than ideologies, I would not have stuck around.
You can’t let people jump off a bridge knowing it will help no one and hurt a lot of people in the process.
But how to fix the inherent discrimination or the inequity in the American education system, let alone the US as a whole? I have no idea. To me it sort of feels like we’re all lined up to take that jump, it’s just that certain kinds of people are in the front of that line and those in the back aren’t doing anything to try to change that.
These past few weeks have made me more aware of how close the issues, the ones that I’ve learned so much about in my lifetime, really are. If I thought I was personally easy to spot before, imagine things now when people almost seem to be consciously looking for the black person in the room. No one around me is comfortable around campus right now, especially my minority friends here, and that’s if they were ever somewhat comfortable before. Everyone is upset, from the Greek students who just paid dues to the faculty trying to remind us that midterms have already started, not to mention countless incoming students in the class of 2022 and that have officially decided not to come here at all.
Right now no one is winning, not really. It’s just a whole lot of hate and blame and discord spreading through the campus like wildfire. That fire keeps changing direction, as a policy changes here or someone says something problematic on social media there, but it doesn’t burn out. It never fades.
I’m just wondering what comes next, how any of this can be amended on a larger scale unless we have everyone trying to work toward the same solution. Are we going to follow everyone else and still find no solutions… Do we jump? Because as with all things in an agitated state, I question how long Cal Poly can last like this before we are either overtaken by the flames or we burn out instead.