The Minority Report

Colgate has been wonderful to me. I’ve made great friends, laughed a lot and succeeded in so many things that seemed insurmountable. But this tiny oasis has been an acquired taste; much like I learned to enjoy bitter chocolate, I’ve learned to love Colgate. This is because we have a fairly specific “way” around here, not overtly anti or biased, but we certainly fit nicely within a mold. And this culture is something I believe we all struggle with, caused not so much by our students, but by the steadfast, shoulder-width-apart stance that holds our old structures in place. It can seem that on any given day, the revolutions of the outside world cause hardly a ripple through Taylor Lake.

The truth is, I haven’t always felt that Colgate was the right place for me or for anyone who saw themselves as different. The community is welcoming and I’ve never been made to feel uncomfortable, but there is an inherent lack of diversity on any campus that self selects and caps enrollment at 2800. I can’t say that it has never crossed my mind that I might have been a different person had I gone to another school. And although the question is unanswerable, I do think I would have experienced far less duress.

This beautiful place can be difficult for someone who is “different,” but only because of the way we deal with it. I believe the idea of a “safe spot,” a closed door and a one-on-one talk with a professional can make being gay/ bisexual/questioning seem like some sort of mental illness. Granted, these places do serve a significant purpose, but it should not be a major focus within the community. You just reach a point when you don’t want to talk about it, because it’s not that big a deal. And to be honest, I think most issues are solved when students find each other, not through an academic advisor trained to tell you “it’s ok.”

Because it is! We need each other to joke with and we need celebration, but not in the “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!” kind of way, but in a more subtle everyday sense. We don’t need to threaten our fellow students, because for the most part, they don’t care, and that’s great! Just be, no pressure to prove it, explain it or defend it, no second thought on character or stereotypes; the “I yam what I yam,” mentality is best.

So then how about a Frarority – Alpha Mega Homo. We can schedule bi-monthly trips to NYC, Boston and San Francisco. We can rejoice with Lady GaGa, sample hairstyles and dabble in denim. Our recruitment process would begin either in utero or with help from a friend in an underground network. We would supplement tie-dye cut offs at the bookstore and create a vegan meal plan.

I’m kidding, of course, but what I want to get across is that with a little bit of humor and self-confidence this community can thrive or at least not feel so secluded. We don’t need more quiet places or staff members to lend an awkward ear.

Despite all these fabulous things italicized under my name, one of the greatest revelations I’ve made here at Colgate is that I am not actually that different – people are people are people and our generation gets that. I believe students make themselves into who they want to be, how they choose to present themselves, and at Colgate, yes, it is easier to stand out, but that doesn’t mean that you’re shocking anyone. Students respond to confidence and honesty and when you can say that you’re happy, they can say that’s all that matters.

Contact Beth Rotenberg at [email protected].