WLU ’24 — Scared Straight

I’m just wondering and I don’t know if this even applicable to anyone other than me and my weakness and fear, so this never has to be shown or taken as anything other than a scared girl’s inquiries, but I always looked to college as the time I would figure out who I am, yes mentally, but also sexually and I’m honestly asking if that’s possible at W&L. I don’t know if I like girls or guys, but from everything I’ve seen, I’m kind of scared to try figuring it out at W&L.

What if I do like girls?

What if in the process of figuring it out I’m labeled as ‘that one lesbian’ and ostracized?

I don’t want to have to deal with that kind of fear, especially in an environment that is outrightly known for being meant for a ‘certain type of student’ aka straight, white, and rich and hostile to those outside of the status quo.

I’m being cowardly though aren’t I?

Is it my obligation to figure it out so other people don’t feel quite as alone as I do? I honestly don’t know.

Does the fact that I can put off figuring it out like sexuality is a diet seem right? I’m not sure who I am, but I really don’t think I trust the W&L community to be there for me if it’s not who they expect.

Is W&L inclusive and I just don’t know it? I’m really and genuinely scared to find out. I guess I’ll stay scared straight for now.

WLU Alumni — Anti-Semitic

Weird anti-Semitic stuff I saw as a student at WLU:

1. Seeing guys chucking coins at their only Jewish fraternity brother

2. Going to a frat party where a Jewish pledge was told to dress in a suit and play the theme from Schindler’s List on violin at the entrance of the party (to be fair, he was very talented, and I watched bc it was more entertaining than drinking Robitussin trashcan juice)

3. Being asked 19th century/Borat crap like “where are your horns?” from people I didn’t really know

4. Christian people trying to go on our Hillel trip to convert Jewish people

5. Hearing fraternity pledges were told they needed to dump their girlfriends because they were Jewish

6. Reading an op-ed in the student newspaper about how unfair it was that the Hillel house was being built faster than the new sorority house (lol wut?)

7. Being told to read Bible verses during sorority initiation (maybe not explicitly anti-Semitic, but certainly not my fave)

8. Overhearing sorority girls complaining about how nice the “Jew house” is when there are so few Jewish students… AT THE HILLEL HOUSE while they were eating bagels from said “Jew house.”

9. “Wow you don’t look Jewish!” “… Thanks?”

WLU ’24 — Reputation

I just want to start this off by saying I am not a POC nor have I even started my time at W&L, but I went to a high school that is 98% white and highly racist. Anyway, W&L is known around the school as the place white privileged kids go to continue being white and privileged. I don’t know if W&L wants this reputation, but that’s what it is.

WLU Current — Inappropriate

I was in an interview for a position affiliated with a department on campus. During the interview, the faculty member interviewer said I would be the “first [my minority group] person to go through the program” if I got the position. There were similar comments made throughout my interview, despite the fact that my minority status was not relevant to the position I was applying for and was not mentioned anywhere in my application. I did not get the position, and couldn’t get any information as to why upon request. Was I discriminated against? I can’t prove it. At best, I was subjected to inappropriate comments in an interview. At worst, I didn’t receive an opportunity that I was qualified for because of my minority status.

WLU ’21L — I Tried to Explain

In the fall after OCI/Interview programs had ended, a group of us were having dinner and talking about the process. A white male told us about a BIPOC female who told him that interviewing with all white male interviewers made her feel uncomfortable. This white male student said he didn’t think that was a reason to feel uncomfortable and made it sound like it was an excuse for not getting a job. Another white male agreed saying he didn’t think that was a reason to be uncomfortable.

I and another person tried to explain to the two white males that this was a reason to feel uncomfortable. But they couldn’t understand why being in a room where no one looks like you would make someone feel this way.

WLU Alumnus — Merit

Like many other POC students, my choice to attend W&L was influenced in large part by their generous financial aid package – the school offered me a full tuition, room, and board merit scholarship that I couldn’t turn down. I was extremely proud of that achievement – I had worked hard to graduate first in my high school class, had won many academic prizes and honors (including national competitions) throughout my life, had an SAT score in the 99% percentile, and had generally felt the accolades I had earned were deserved.

My freshman year, one of my classmates (and someone I considered a friend and am still friendly with), a white legacy student, mentioned that she had applied for the same scholarship, and didn’t receive it.

In the same breath, she said I had probably gotten it (presumably over more qualified candidates like her) because I was a minority candidate.

I have thought about that comment more times than I can count in the nearly 20 years since she said it. I am certain she meant nothing by it, and I am sure she doesn’t even remember saying it. It just simply didn’t occur to her that I could have earned that honor through merit, nor that I might have deserved it more than she did.

I graduated 6th in my class from W&L. My classmate had trouble keeping a passing GPA. And I still, *still*, wonder if maybe she was right.

WLU Parent — Honor System

I am a parent of a current W&L student, a sibling of an alumnus, a one-time rejected applicant and a friend to a handful of other alumni. Although I was educated elsewhere I have always held W&L in high regard. I have listened to accounts of campus life from friends and family but my experience is obviously limited. I have also read the experiences shared through your Instagram account. I wrote to provide a slightly different perspective.

I have little doubt of any of the information shared by those whose stories have been published. The fact that racism, antisemitism, misogyny and other such behaviors flourish in Lexington comes as no real surprise.

I am horrified that students have suffered through their time at W&L while others have found it idyllic.

I fully support the attention directed at addressing these failings. The name change and removal of other campus dedications honoring those whose efforts championed morally repugnant causes are obvious steps that would show recognition of the need for substantive change. I understand the resistance from an “old guard” who fear that such things would erase a part of their history. But I have another view.

The challenge facing W&L is yet another opportunity to put a burden on the broad shoulders of its unique nature and an opportunity to elevate itself. At the core of W&L is the honor system which is intended as “… an all-encompassing system of trust. Since a central implication is that students will not lie, cheat, or steal, members of the W&L community take one another’s words and actions at face value, inside the classroom and out…”

My outsider view sees racism, antisemitism, misogyny and any other such abomination as a violation of that code. To actively perpetrate or condone such behavior is to misrepresent one’s character, to unfairly promote disparate treatment of others and to deprive another of their expectation of fair treatment and equal rights – lying, cheating and stealing.

For the alumni, students, faculty and administration of W&L, it is time to ask whether the honor code is a sham. You cannot simultaneously boast of the honor code and turn a blind eye on the violations raised here. I think it is far from a sham. It is the backbone of all that is good at W&L. It is THE thing worth preserving and building upon. It is the most important tradition and provides the guidance needed to navigate the rough seas of accountability and long overdue change.

WLU ’21 — Invisible

An incredibly easy way to make the campus feel more inclusive is to actually practice the speaking tradition. I know some people don’t buy into this tradition or neglect to greet other people for a couple of reasons (i.e., had a bad day/don’t feel like it, innocuously forgot to do so, avert “awkwardness”, wasn’t raised to do so/doesn’t say hi to strangers, etc.)

Doing this occasionally is fine, and I as a POC acknowledge that I fail to live up to this tradition at times for those reasons.

However, HABITUALLY and completely failing to do so is what I take issue with. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that one needs to be a beaming sunflower and say hi to every single face they see.

It only makes me feel all the more invisible on campus when I walk past someone and am ready to acknowledge them with a slight nod or awkward smile, only to be met with a blank stare or a last second reach-into-my-pocket-to-get-their-phone (which makes the awkwardness even more overt) as if I am not there. Things like these are noticed over time.

If we hold the door for each other, why is a simple courtesy to another person so difficult and evasive? Why are “heys” and common respect towards each other seemingly “rationed”?

WLU ’21 — Reality

I constantly question whether the education we receive actually outweighs the shitty people we have to deal with. The sad part is I knew I would feel this way ever since I visited campus for the Johnson Scholarship Competition (I had never even heard of W&L until I started applying to random liberal arts schools on the east coast).

I was shocked by how ingenuine students were and the endless disparities between what the school wants you to think it is and reality. I even had a professor say during one of my interviews that “we don’t have anything for you here” in regards to my academic interests. (They were wrong.) That night I called my mom crying swearing that under no circumstance would I go to W&L. However, when we received my merit scholarship offer, we couldn’t turn it down -and that’s how I got here.

WLU ’19 — Crossing Lines

TW: Mention of rape

After seeing some other stories about the same professor, I figured I would share my experience as well. 

I went to his office in order to catch up on what was covered during a Writing Center meeting I had to miss during my senior year. He closed the door, which felt very strange—I never experienced a professor, let alone a male professor, do that. His office blinds were drawn, and he sat between me and the door.

As a survivor of sexual assault, all of these things had me on high alert. We discussed the Writing Center and he caught me up from a meeting I missed, which was fine. But then he wanted to talk about becoming a mentor for a club I was leading, and that was when things took a turn.

He said he would only be a mentor “if it’s worth his time,” and he went into the stories of people he’s been a confidant/mentor for over the years, presumably to prove to me he’d be a good/effective mentor for the students in my organization.

He mentioned that he had “bone chilling stories” (his words) to share of the things that go on at W&L, playing coy and not seeming to want to tell me at first. Of course, I already knew there were plenty of bone chilling things going on, but he seemed to think this would be new information for me.

One story was about a white male student who got a DUI, who he advised to get a lawyer and got out of the charge. Another was “falsely” accused of rape (it didn’t sound false to me the way even he told the story) who he also advised to get a lawyer, and another who was kidnapped by a fraternity during pledging (hazing).

He then said he “hoped I’d never gone through anything as bad as those experiences.”

I wanted to reply that I’ve been raped twice on this campus (and had been writing about it all year) by men exactly like the ones he’s worked to protect, but I decided it was better to say nothing. Safer. I’d gone numb and into survival mode, trying to get out of the conversation as quickly as I could. After over thirty minutes of these stories, he ended the meeting. I left shaken and dazed, a little unsure of what had just happened, as all of it was inappropriate.

I reported this incident to my advisor, who told me to share it with the department head, who escalated it to HR. My advisor also spoke to this professor, advising him not to talk or interact with me outside of Writing Center duties.

Some days later, at the senior capstone reading, I came in a few moments late, and this professor stared directly at me (perpendicular to where the students were speaking, so it was very obvious and uncomfortable) until I acknowledged him. I was trying not to acknowledge him because given the social situation I didn’t feel like I needed to-I was late and wanted to pay attention to the capstones. Further, he had already been advised not to speak to me, as I did not want to speak with him, given how uncomfortable he had made me.

Later during the event, he reached to get his cup that was somehow on the ledge on the other side of me. He put his hand on my lower back to reach by, which was completely unnecessary and inappropriate. I do not want to be touched. I do not want to be touched without my consent. I do not want to be touched by a professor that had made me feel so upset and uncomfortable. I shouldn’t have to say that, really

And he especially shouldn’t have touched me after I had reported him (which he had happened to find out about, making me feel even more unsafe and anxious.)

I was always on edge walking around campus for the remaining few months of my senior year, worried I’d run into him and he’d try to talk to me about my report, etc. He was known for crossing lines left and right, so it never seemed out of the realm of possibility.

I don’t think he received much in the way of consequences, but it was an unpleasant and severely anxiety-inducing experience, especially as someone with diagnosed PTSD after being raped twice at W&L. Given the volume of stories about him I’ve heard or read here, ranging from verbal and written harassment to horrific racism to sexual harassment,