McGrew: Don’t Look Back
By Jennifer Mc Grew, Guest Columnist
Published on Thursday, January 24, 2013
My name is Jennifer McGrew, and I was hazed. Before you jump to conclusions, I was not hazed by a sorority or sports team. Instead, it was by the institution of Dartmouth College and how it has shaped, molded and created people who have no regard or remorse for their actions. From harassment by the Financial Aid Office to mental abuse from fellow students, I have been treated like a second-class citizen. This was not a one-term pledge session, but rather a four-year struggle of torment.
Being a poor, black woman on this campus is not conducive to much of anything. After I graduate, I will probably not return to Dartmouth’s campus. I will not be the alumna to come back for every Homecoming or Winter Carnival celebration. I will not be the alumna who donates even a moderate sum of money to the institution. If I have learned anything from my time here, it is that the privilege on which people here pride themselves makes me lose faith in humanity. I am privileged to be here, but I do not use that as an excuse to treat people any which way.
College is supposed to be a time of growth and soul-searching. The problem around here is that people do not reflect in this manner — they conform to the narrow and rigid box that dictates who they can and cannot be. I do not feel welcome within this community. I cannot wait to get my Dartmouth diploma, walk across the stage and gaze at the Green for the last time.
Make no mistake, I have met some amazing people and I have been granted an education that is better than that of 99 percent of people in the world. I have been able to travel and grow and find myself, not with the help of Dartmouth, but rather in spite of it.
This hazing occurs on so many levels that I do not even try to fight it any longer. I no longer bat an eye when we receive a campus-wide blitz from Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson about another incident of racist vandalism. I do not ponder why my peers outside of the classroom ignore me. I no longer think twice about moving aside as my white counterparts walk past me on the sidewalk, because despite the right that I have to walk there, I always end up being forced to the side or risk being hit or run over.
I do not want to be the angry black woman on campus, but, frankly, that is all I can be at this point. I am tired of the rude, disrespectful, hateful, racist, sexist and privileged individuals that populate this campus. I am tired of having to try and defend my entire race when something happens on campus.
My situation is my situation. I cannot and will not speak for anyone but myself. I cannot say that all minorities have the same experience. I can, on the other hand, say that there is not one building on campus named after a black alumnus. I can say that when it comes to making institutional changes, the minorities are usually the first group affected and the last group to have a say in the matter. Despite all of this, I am thankful for one thing that Dartmouth has given me — the opportunity to have a completely different outlook on life. I am glad that I know what it feels like to be treated as a second-rate human because now I will think twice before jumping to any conclusions about others. I am glad that I have faced this type of racism and sexism because it has motivated me to fight against these inequalities around the world.
I am also glad that I will have the name “Dartmouth” on my diploma because without it, I do not think that some of the aforementioned opportunities would ever be available to me. I am tired of fighting, but I have realized that this is just the beginning. It is time for me to step into the shoes of my ancestors and carry on the burden that they were left with.
It has been a frustrating, interesting, angry, intriguing and life-changing adventure here. It is also time for me to leave and not look back.