Everyone wants to belong. However, it seems like when we find our niche at Davidson, many of us are judged. Some groups more than others. Our school lets the religious, athletic and PCC organizations have their support systems without everyone saying that they segregate themselves, but when I chose to live substance free or hang out with first generation students, LGBTQIA students, and STRIDE I am seen as segregating myself. I chose today to say you need to know the stories before you generalize the group.
My first semester at Davidson was a culture shock because I never had to think of myself as different until I came here. Being a natural dancer, I was bluntly denied dancing at a party with many white men because of my race. “I am not attracted to black women,” guys have said to me in their drunken state. I also was exposed to the phenomena of other races of women wanting to touch my hair and pull it to see if it’s fake. Adding the fact that I was going to be a mother and was broke, I was the “poster child” of what many people saw as “those people” (aka the urban, low-income black girl). How was I supposed to be happy here? The first support system I developed on this campus was STRIDE, my hall and the counseling center. So when I began talking to my support system for STRIDE, I was surprised to overhear conversations about how I was segregating myself on my hall.
Fast forward to today, I now have another support system in the LGBTQIA community on campus. I have had countless men and women of privilege question me about this. I find it offensive that a person would even question why I need to attend weekly meetings with that community. Although my closest friends may not identify with these groups, it is always great to know that there is someone on this campus who understands what I am going through. I do not see men the way my girlfriends do, so talking about guys 24/7 with them gets boring. I need to know the best hang out spot to meet people who I would potentially date, develop friendships and relationships with other students who are like me because just like anyone else, I want to enjoy my four years of college.
The fact that it is the marginalized groups on campus that receive hell for providing a support system is the type of ignorance that puts us behind our peer institutions. This needs to stop. There are some aspects of my life that I only feel comfortable talking about with people with shared experiences, because they know where I am coming from and where I should go next. It is not an “us vs. them” situation. It’s more of feeling like you are not alone. My best friends on this campus look nothing like me, are heterosexual, not first generation or low-income and are from the most rural places in the United States. Ever since I came to Davidson I have been surrounded by people who are different from me, many are my friends, but they have their own support systems to help them get through Davidson and they are proud of it. So just because my support systems happen to be marginalized groups, I am not allowed to be proud of what makes me Ricki? I encourage students to think before they call these groups cliques because I prefer the term family. The way you see your bible study group, sports team, eating house and fraternity/sorority is the same way you should view my “marginalized” support systems.