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Last year, I was the single most hated person on my college campus. I was jeered out of the cafeteria, shunned by my supervisor, and received death threats via almost every method of communication. But I’m a good person.
I’ll back up.
I graduated from a (fucking expensive) liberal arts school with 2,000 undergraduate students. Some students were on a different campus, and half commuted, so that left about 1,000 dormers. There was no privacy. Everyone knew which drinks you ordered at the local bar and how many times a day you wiped your ass. The administration was no different. In fact, it was worse. It closely monitored the students and sucked the fun out of what college was supposed to be. It shut down all parties at 1 a.m. sharp, and allotted one day per year for students to get shitfaced without any repercussions. It’s called Townhouse Day, and it’s been around since the ’70s or ’80s.
Seeking a “normal” college experience, the students rebelled.
For the first two years, I was one of those students. I had my fair share of blackouts and regretful decisions, but in my junior year, I got sick of avoiding the watchful eyes of the administration and instead became more serious about my studies and my future.
Inevitably, the parties raged on. And that’s all fine and dandy—college kids are supposed to do those things, because it’s the only time we have to act like Neanderthals with minimal ramifications for our actions. But the university was pouring money into the athletic department (about $2 million toward the football team who hasn’t won a game since 2012) and its athletes were blowing it, literally. Lacrosse players regularly snorted cocaine, members of the cross country team were getting high before races and then running them to completion without any recollection of the actual races, and nursing students were performing oil changes on football players. Don’t know what an oil change is? Let me explain. It’s when you empty your bladder and then filter in someone else’s clean specimen through a catheter. They did this before drug tests, because, I quote, “I like football but I like drugs more.”
Now, about me. I’m a pretty cool person. I’ve always had a lot of friends. People thought I was funny. I’m genuinely a nice girl. It makes me really happy to make other people happy, which is why I started writing for the school newspaper—well, that and it helped pay for my expensive-as-fuck tuition. I loved making other people happy, so I started writing about all the cool people I met on campus in a section called “Characters on Campus.”
I’ve never cared what people think of me in the sense that I always chose dare in truth or dare, so when they promoted me to managing editor at the paper, I was totally up for the challenge. But as drugs and parties progressed on campus, I was faced with a decision: write about all of the fucked up shit that the university was turning a blind eye to, or stay under the radar.
I began to document the incidents. I spoke to athletic officials, attained police reports, and spoke to the students who would still talk to me. But as the articles came out, people started acting differently toward me.
I had done nothing wrong. I had merely presented factual information, yet I was the bane of everyone’s existence. The regional news got word of the drama and came unannounced to the campus to interview me.
Yet, I couldn’t say a word, because I knew that snitches get stitches. But I was already bleeding.
Eventually, I was “that girl.” They wanted me dead.
By graduation, I had only a few friends. The people who provided the alcohol on my twenty-first birthday wouldn’t look me in the eye, many removed me on Facebook—which was actually a huge deal, not because I lost tons of tagged photos, but because it was a representation of their true feelings. The only support that I had was from the newspaper staff, my parents, and random people who approached me between classes telling me to keep my head up.
I’ve since graduated and put many of those people in my past. The articles ended up landing me a job at a newspaper, and a couple of months ago, I ran into a few of the lacrosse players at a local bar and they hugged me and apologized. I figured it was all in the past.
Today, the university canceled Townhouse Day, allegedly because someone sued the school for gang rape and because the government is cracking down on partying. But I’m still receiving death threats.
If I’ve learned anything from this experience at all, it’s A) college kids really love alcohol, and B) the importance of responsibility.
We could spend our lives blaming others for our misfortunes. We can point all the fingers in the world or compose infinite amounts of Facebook posts that proclaim objectified perceptions and we can blame the media.
Or we could take a good, hard look at ourselves in the mirror and realize that the reporters aren’t the ones who write history, we do. They merely transcribe it..