WLU ’19 — Math Professor

I also had to take a class with the previously mentioned horrifyingly sexist Mathematics professor. It was Discrete Mathematics, a class that every Computer Science major has to take before graduating, and one that’s very frequently only taught by this professor. I guess they don’t care because most CS majors are men, so it doesn’t matter if the few women feel unsafe, right?

He used to wear unique ties every day to class, making us memorize them for extra credit. For the final he wore one with two “hula girls” on it. He made a very specific point about how they USED to be topless and you USED to be able to see their nipples but his horrible wife made him cover them up. He then proceeded to make the men in the class vote on which woman in the class to name his naked hula ladies after. It was so incredibly demeaning and vile.

My friend got a lower grade on her first exam, nothing she couldn’t recover from, but she wanted to do better and went into his office hours. He told her – to her face – that she clearly wasn’t good at math, she shouldn’t try, and he couldn’t help her. A male friend got the same grade, went to his office hours, and got a full and productive hour of help. 

He also mentioned how much he hated that the school allows women now, because he wants to make sexual comments about women’s bodies but the “overly sensitive” female students would get upset.

Most egregiously of all – and the reason why I never reported him (though I’m ashamed for it all the same) – was that on the very first day of class he sized all of the women up, looked us each in the eye, and told us a “funny story” about how some “crazy” student tried to file a Title IX report against him. He found out about it while she was still in his class, and he told us – laughing- that he directly confronted her and got her to admit that he wasn’t actually sexist (because I’m sure she has no reason at all to be afraid) and retract the report. It was a warning to us. If we tried to report him, he would find out, and he would intimidate us into silence.

I had panic attacks almost daily because of his behavior. I feel sick thinking about him to this day.

WLU ’21 — Change

Before coming to W&L, I was unaware of some of the problematic parts of our campus and community. I never understood how something like having “Lee” as part of our name could negatively impact any other student’s experience because I was raised in a “War of Northern Aggression” household and community. Being that I was white and went to a small predominantly white school, I never questioned the picture that had been painted of the Confederate general. I bought into the same narrative that W&L pushed, showcasing him primarily as an educator and savior of our university. 

I applied to the school because it checked off all of my boxes, especially my need for financial aid. I come from a low income background and was even on scholarship to my private high school so I needed to be able to afford to attend a higher institution.

Luckily, W&L was able to completely meet my needs, and I am incredibly grateful for this, especially since this is not the case for every student. Even through my first year, I was pretty unaware of some of the negative aspects of our campus. That is until I was starting to really pay attention. 

My family members came to parents’ weekend my sophomore year, and some of them were completely appalled by what they saw. They didn’t understand the necessary push for adding diversity to our campus, and I remember one of them saying how they don’t get why W&L will just let anyone in these days. I was completely taken aback because I knew exactly who they were referring to: the POC and LGBT+ students. At the time, I didn’t say anything for fear that I would come across as disrespectful, and I regret that decision because I know that they were also referring to some of my friends and peers.

After that, I started noticing more comments that peers were making: fraternity members using racist slurs, friends making homophobic comments, sorority sisters bashing lower income families. I started to question if I made the right decision of attending W&L even though I was never directly attacked. 

As I was closeted at the time, I felt like I would never be able to really be myself on campus if this was how my peers behaved. In a family group chat recently, they were complaining about the school’s recent push to add diversity, and an incredibly wealthy family member told me to “check my privilege” since she didn’t believe I could have been accepted without them wanting to fill an economic diversity spot. I began wondering if I had peers who thought that about me as well, and I cannot even imagine what it is like to be a student of color or an open member of the LGBTQ+ community if this is what my own family thinks of me.

Our campus has aspects of elitism, misogyny, and racism built within its walls, and as a white student that has come out to only a few friends, I will never fully understand or experience the negative parts of our community. 

Having “Lee” in our name can only further perpetuate these behaviors among students, faculty, alums, and family members. It makes our campus feel unwelcoming to marginalized groups since the university has catered to these mindsets to maintain funding and prestige among elitist and close-minded members of our community. 

It is a small stepping stone, but taking Lee out of the name pushes our university in the right direction for change.

WLU ’21 — Campus Culture

TW: Description of sexual assault

This story is an absolute roller coaster of ways W&L’s culture has failed me and people like me. During my Admitted Students’ Day, I was with a current student who I trusted and was dating at the time. He was on Adderall to study that day, though it had not been prescribed to him. While I was in his room, he pinned me down and started doing things to me I told him were not okay. Instead of listening to me when I told him to stop, he flipped me over and I had to fight him off me

He told me his behavior was out of character and only happened because of the drugs he was on. I never reported because my status as someone who hadn’t started at W&L stressed me out, and before I had even begun classes I was worried about my reputation.

I thought about reporting an Honor Violation for his unprescribed use of a drug, knowing that the University may have taken it more seriously, but by the time I had become a student able to report these things, several months had passed. 

I asked a friend to be on the lookout for him at parties in case he tried to confront me (when I removed him as a follower from my finsta account, he gaslighted and threatened me, so I was afraid of what would happen if I saw him in person). Most of my friends don’t know that this ever happened, because this young man was not especially popular and I was worried that people might not like me if my first move on campus was to accuse someone of assault (though I know that the people who are my friends would never treat me this way, I don’t feel that way about the student body at large).

During our relationship, this individual would repeatedly compare my body to his Black ex-girlfriend’s in an explicitly racist way, saying that my whiteness made me more appealing to him for several reasons so nauseating I won’t repeat them. Because of his overall behavior around me, I was so afraid to ever speak up about these horrible things he said and did. It scares me even more now, because he was accepted into a PhD program and can continue to use his influence to be blatantly racist and misogynistic, even if only behind closed doors. I’ve been having nightmares recently about him and how the culture at our university allows people like him to be successful.

WLU ’08 — Overt

I will always remember the first cocktail hour I went to at a certain very southern, very conservative fraternity (known for pledging only white men) where all of the bartenders were black men and the frat brothers addressed them all as “boy.”

I had never experienced such overt racism in my life and I remember going completely numb. The racism was constant, it was accepted as ‘the way things were in the south’ and I’m still ashamed of only speaking up sometimes, when instances were too disgusting for me not to say something and call it out (ie rampant usage of racist and homophobic slurs at frat parties.) Even then it gave me a reputation of being “difficult,” “crazy,” and a “bitch” in the Greek system.

As a white woman at a school with deeply embedded misogyny, even with my immense privilege of being in a “good” sorority and from the “right” socioeconomic background, I felt powerless.

WLU ’21 — Undocumented

During OWeek, I had to deal with DACA being taken away, throwing my entire life into disarray. The same week, SNU threw their Mexican themed party and attacked anyone who spoke out against it. After that, it’s been series of micro-aggression after micro-aggression and the occasional blatant racist remarks. From the very beginning, I was consciously aware that as an undocumented Latina, this campus was not welcoming towards me and other POC. This feeling has only been compounded due to the school’s unwillingness to treat racism, misogyny, and homophobia as breaking the community’s trust as time has gone on. The administration and the board of trustees don’t see us as part of the community they’re tasked to defend.

WLU Transfer – Object

It’s difficult to share my story about the toxic culture at W&L as my time there is shrouded in shame, embarrassment, and trauma. I was assaulted a number of times by multiple students in multiple occasions. 

The Greek system encourages a work hard and play hard mentality that is dangerous. “Blackout” was something to be worn like a badge of honor. Hooking up was worn with a badge of honor. The misogyny there is rampant and is encouraged by the Greek system and “boys will be boys” mentality.

I remember being driven back from a party far from campus in the back of an SUV. Four other girls were packed in the trunk area while men were sitting in seats with seatbelts.

I don’t remember where we were driven or what happened after but I know I woke up in a fraternity house. 

In another instance, I remember waking up in a bare mattress covered in water with my clothes no where to be found. I remember being texted repeatedly to make sure I took the morning after pill by someone I thought I trusted and then that same person refused to make eye contact with me after that. I remember waking up with a stranger on top of me in my dorm room where I had passed out.

I left the school my freshman year in order to seek treatment and refused to return because of the shame and the trauma that occurred there. I now know I was taken advantage of and violated. Being drunk gives NO ONE a free pass to rape or assault someone.

At W&L I learned what it is to be treated as an object, as meat because I was female. 

The honor code is a charade that disappears on nights and weekends. There, honor only exists between white men. BI&POC and women are not treated with honor or respect. 

In all honesty, I’m glad I didn’t get a degree there.

WLU ’23 – Joke

I heard two people talking about Black foreign exchange students and joking about him being a “slave.”

Those same students joked about Title IX and referenced a faculty member saying “Let’s r*pe her.” 

Whenever I would speak up to them about their many misogynistic or racist comments, they get so frustrated that they had to be “politically correct” around me.