lesbian

Cornell: Oppressive or Progressive?

March 13, 2015 in Academics, Alive Campus, Colleges

While speaking to counselors, they all said the same thing, “I think you’re just a little too hotheaded.” I read that as, “I think you’re too opinionated and see the world as it really is—a white heterosexual male dominated system.” They said, “We have plenty of gay people here who don’t get into any trouble at all.” What they meant was, “We have tall, handsome, masculine, white, financially privileged gay men here who have never felt true oppression and therefore, never had anything to complain about.”

While speaking to counselors, they all said the same thing, “I think you’re just a little too hotheaded.” I read that as, “I think you’re too opinionated and see the world as it really is—a white heterosexual male dominated system.” They said, “We have plenty of gay people here who don’t get into any trouble at all.” What they meant was, “We have tall, handsome, masculine, white, financially privileged gay men here who have never felt true oppression and therefore, never had anything to complain about.”

I’m gay. I am a person of color. I am a first generation Ivy Leaguer. I like to paint my nails a sparkly shade of ruby red. I enjoy performing my sexuality in a stereotypically flamboyant and feminine manner. I am outspoken about my radical queer opinions. I am a feminist. I am a queer rights activist.

I am anything and everything that the institution fears.

During my almost two years at Cornell, I’ve slowly grown to be more cynical about the institution to which I feel emotionally enslaved and my parents financially burdened.

  • Thanks to the existence of the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major and the LGBT minor, I came in with the expectation that the university allocated a decent amount of funding for the departments. I was wrong.
  • Thanks to the amount of LGBTQ+ resources that were supposedly offered to students of all gender and sexual identities, I came in with the expectation that the university has a wonderful support system for queer students. I had to create that support network.
  • Thanks to the pre-college panels with white-cis gay males/passable queers that kept saying, “Cornell is so open to homosexuality,” I came in with the expectation that Cornell is a university that is open to homosexuality. I should’ve made note of the fact that it was only white-cis gay males/passable queers having good experiences.

This past week, Student Assembly candidates debated on diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives—which could either negatively or neutrally affect the Haven/LGBT community. Rarely do policies positively affect the queers. Let’s be real, the institution is still an institution.

Two of the pertinent questions asked to these candidates were: “What will you do for Haven’s funding?” and “What will you do about the bias reporting system?”

  • Haven is the LGBTQ+ organization on campus. We have ~$50k worth of funding for the growing umbrella organization. We currently have ~15 sub organizations that make up the umbrella organization. UPenn (known as a less-progressive university) offers nearly $200k for its school of roughly the same amount of sub-organizations and student population. Interesting.
  • Last semester, I reported several bias incidents pertaining to homophobia. First, the administration simply scolded my white, heterosexual bullies. Those white, heterosexual bullies then harassed me further. Second, the administration scolded the white, heterosexual bullies a second time. Those white, heterosexual bullies made my life miserable. Finally, I stood up to my white, heterosexual bullies. My white, heterosexual bullies got offended and reported me. I was made to look like the bad guy. I got kicked out of my house of residence and had to move during finals week (when I should’ve been studying). I had to talk to the police. I had to go to counseling right before winter break and all throughout my winter break. I almost killed myself.

While speaking to counselors, they all said the same thing, “I think you’re just a little too hotheaded.” I read that as, “I think you’re too opinionated and see the world as it really is—a white heterosexual male dominated system.” They said, “We have plenty of gay people here who don’t get into any trouble at all.” What they meant was, “We have tall, handsome, masculine, white, financially privileged gay men here who have never felt true oppression and therefore, never had anything to complain about.”

I love Cornell. I love the intellectual community. I love being able to take a class on gender politics in Africa while being a team member on a service-learning trip to queer homeless shelters in NYC. I love the friends that I have. I love the creative writing and queer clubs that I’m a part of. I love my school.

But it needs to fix itself before I can proudly boast that my school is anything but a money-hungry corporation that talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk.