Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

One Month In, A Freshman Calls It Like It Is

On the fateful day that was Aug. 23, swarms of anxious, overly eager freshmen flocked together in the streets that surround the Whitman campus, ready to move into their new home. Through the madness of carrying unwieldy boxes and roommate introductions, I kept a dialogue of notes on my phone transcribing various observations and opinions regarding college life, and more specifically life at Whitman. Now, I want to share these micro-takes with you. 

Yik Yak

To me, the words “anonymous Twitter” sounds like a concept made up in the newest dystopian novel. Take this creation, and make it only applicable to roughly 1,500 college students, and you’ve just innovated the 7th circle of hell. I’ll admit, I have Yik Yak. It’s possible I even give it the occasional scroll before bed. But I do this the same way people watch car crash compilations or have a weird fascination with observing broken bones. I do it because I cannot bear to look away at the absurd arguments that take place on this app. 

Opening Yik Yak feels like crawling through The Door in Coraline; where, rather than finding my Other Mother, I’m met with my middle school experience all over again. This concept of anonymous social spaces always ends poorly, and while Yik Yak has appeared slightly more moderated, it’s still a space for offhand comments with no societal repercussions. 

Only one month into school and there’s already been discourse surrounding the morals of the freshman class, multisyllabic words in classroom discussions and which frats you should rush if you’re a terrible person.  In a nutshell, Yik Yak is a perfect space if you want to experience immature agony – or you want to compliment the astounding Chef Jon, in which case, continue. 

Queer Culture at Whitman

 I came from a conservative town outside of Los Angeles, where it seemed I could count the number of queer people in a 30-mile radius on two hands. In public, my friends and I were met with a general air of disgust, complete with nasty side eyes or the offhand “homosexuals” comment. Transitioning from a place where I would have to drop a girl’s hand at the sight of a group of older men, to Whitman, has been an incredible adjustment. At first glance, this place looks like a queer metropolis – and in certain regards, it is. I feel safe and welcomed even. But in a place visually swimming in gay people, I’m having a shockingly difficult time actually pointing them out. 

My friends back home were drag queens and butch body artists; in a town of red, white and blue, we stuck out like sore thumbs. Now, being somewhere so intertwined with queer culture, it almost feels as though it’s been erased entirely. Nearly everyone here could pass as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, which makes it difficult to feel truly visible as a member of my community. 

My favorite experience as a queer person is speaking to another, and having a candid “we see each other” moment. There are no proper words to describe the sensation, but it’s something so special, so joyous, that it could never be replicated, like meeting someone who shares your same niche opinion on an unknown band. Here, that feeling has been all but lost entirely.

On a campus with 30% of students identifying as queer, how could there possibly be a lack of gay culture? The issue does not lay in Whitman’s demographics, rather its participation in the LGBTQ+ community as a whole. I know the idea of a “Walla Walla Drag Show” sonically doesn’t sit quite right, but that’s the point. The entirety of gay culture is to disrupt the norms, to be audacious and flamboyant, to create an atmosphere made to house only us. While the notion of being loudly queer was, (and for some still is) taboo, we ought to take advantage of Whitman’s already existing reputation as a queer campus and properly capitalize on it.

The Secretly Wealthy

While undercover rich people isn’t necessarily a Whitman exclusive topic, but rather something most colleges are plagued with, I think it’s safe to say Whitman has a firm footing within it. The socioeconomic ladder is one that is difficult to navigate, though I’ll lay all my cards on the table and say that I have less tolerance and respect for the wealthy. Before debriefing, I also want to acknowledge my own privilege – I am by no means “poor” and sit comfortably in the middle class. As a first-generation, working-class student, we lightly dove into the class division of Whitman at the fly-in. We were courteously given the tools to navigate a campus that, at times, feels like it was built for statuses just out of our reach. 

But I can’t help but find myself analyzing every new interaction I have with someone, trying to sniff out if they vacation at a second home in the Hamptons. Coming to Whitman, I knew I was going to encounter my fair share of “elites,” but I never predicted their immersion into my daily life. I’m not sure what I expected – a gaggle of designer-clad croquet players, perhaps – but nothing could’ve prepared me for the fact that they are walking among us, wearing purposefully distressed Carhartt. 

I’m not saying all rich people are secretly conniving supervillains, I’m simply pointing out the discrepancy in life experiences we have. To some, class may seem like an irrelevant factor in a relationship, but maybe that’s because money was never a relevant factor in your life, to begin with. For some of us, myself included, money (or lack thereof) is a way of navigating life. It governs my beliefs, my morals, my passions. I truly don’t believe I’d ever be able to get along with someone who doesn’t share that awareness. In a college striving towards intersectional diversity, I think it’s about time we acknowledge that not all spaces need to be inhabited by everyone. 

To be inclusive, in this sense of the word, is not necessarily the antithesis of exclusive. We need queer-only spaces, BIPOC-only spaces, working class-only spaces; community is all about shared experience, and without this, the diversity of Whitman appears to be a facade.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *