By Delphine Burns
At the age of 10 years old, my mom remarried and I moved with her from the accepting community of Santa Cruz, California to the narrow-minded town of Hays, Kansas. All through high school, I was motivated to work hard and obtain good grades so I could return to California for college. Being exposed to prejudice and intolerance on a daily basis, I anticipated the opportunity to return to this predominantly accepting, tolerant part of the country.
Hays High School was a place where racism, sexism and homophobia often drifted under the radar undetected, or merely were not confronted. It was a place with traditional values and old-fashioned norms. Religion was central, and the community members faced difficulty in accepting anyone whose beliefs differed from their own.
When I was accepted early-decision to Pitzer, I was ecstatic and so optimistic about the prospects of finally living in a community where I wouldn’t be judged and scrutinized daily for my beliefs and habits. The rest of my senior year, I was in a much more optimistic state of mind. Not only was I going to return to California. I had also found a school with core values so similar to my own. I was finally going to be surrounded by people who shared some of my own ideals.
Upon coming here, I was not disappointed. People are extremely accepting of my life choices and also very conscientious.
However, I was disappointed with how unappreciative some students are of their privilege to attend school in such an environment.
It is extremely disconcerting, and quite frankly obnoxious to hear people at Pitzer, or any of the 5Cs, complain about this community being narrow-minded.
Many of these people do not even understand the concept of narrow-mindedness in the context that I experience in high school, or in the city of Hays alone. The majority of people complaining about intolerance in Claremont attended private, or even public high schools in large cities, or diverse areas. I haven’t met anyone who attended public high school in a rural, conservative part of the US. Therefore, I feel it’s hard for people to empathize or even contextualize the privilege of attending institutions that are predominantly accepting.
Students here take acceptance and tolerance for granted, when these abstract ideals should be appreciated and revered. I hear far too many complaints about how closed-minded people at the 5Cs can be. Truth is, there are closed-minded individuals everywhere, but here the incidents are far diminished than in the context of my high school.
My main point is that when complaining about an issue, it’s to contextualize it. It’s imperative to keep in mind that while things can always be better, they can always be worse. Focusing on the positive as opposed to the negative is never a terrible idea.