The Collegian
Sunday, March 07, 2021


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Enough politeness

I'd like to say a heartfelt thank you those who contacted me in response to my last article on grief. It's a relief to know that people I've never met are willing to reach out and share with me. It lets me know that some people on this campus listen when others speak out. It gives me hope for the possibility of an actual community here.

What happened to the University of Richmond community? Was there a time when the students who went here bonded over their shared college experience? I suppose I should have asked that last weekend when the alumni were here. I look around campus now and I see division. I see cliques, rivalry, labels, segregation, judgment, a lack of understanding and an abundance of fear.

We're afraid to look one another in the eyes as we pass through the Commons; we're afraid to crack more than a tight-lipped smile at someone we don't know; we don't ask how someone's doing and stick around for the response. But you know, we're probably too afraid to respond with the truth anyway.

The first thing I thought when I came to visit here from my home in New York was, "Wow, people in Virginia are so nice!" But I'm sick of politeness and I'm tired of manners.

I want to get to know people here. I didn't come to school to be nice all the time. This is a university, not a finishing school. I recently told my significant other that he's the only person I feel I can talk to at this school without constantly worrying about what I'm saying and how I'm saying it. He said I'm doing everyone a great disservice.

I know I'm not the only one who worries about stepping on other people's toes. I've had full conversations, meetings for hours, workshops for days, just brimming with sugary-sweet talking and pretending to care.

It's nauseating and exhausting. Maybe the males on campus don't have to deal with it as much. I don't know, but wouldn't it be nice if we could have real conversations with one another without having to go on an Allies retreat? I've had conversations that were enlightening, meetings that were passionate and workshops that gave me a glimpse of my peers at their most honest and therefore most vulnerable. Maybe I'm foolish in my belief that this is what college life is supposed to be about, but I want and need more of these experiences. I think more of them could make a true community out of the Richmond population.

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