April 11, 2012

Should Have, But Didn't

Since many of you don’t know me too well, allow me to make a belated introduction. Hey, I’m Mary Claire, but about three quarters of the people I know, including my parents, call me “MC.” I am a chocoholic, and a not-so-closeted brony. I like playing sports, particularly roller blading, and my biggest strength and weakness as a person is the same thing: I don’t put up with things I think are wrong…well, usually.

I have been attending universities for some time now, and I am of the persuasion that prospective student weekends serve a double purpose to the administration: they not only encourage high school students to apply to the university, but they provide entertainment for the oftentimes sadistic administration by driving the current students nuts. The C1 was more packed than usual (if that’s even possible), I gave directions to way too many people to the Duke Chapel (it’s totally not that huge building you can see from almost everywhere on West Campus) and, for the first time ever, witnessed an actual, honest-to-Krzyzewski line form at Alpine. Perhaps if finals week wasn’t lurking around the corner, I would be amused by the antics of the p-frosh and their parents, but I fail to find myself entertained. I can’t help but wonder, though, if that was due to a recent event.

These days, listening in to the conversations of the p-frosh on the bus is unavoidable, considering we’re all packed so tightly together. Usually, their conversations sound a lot like o-week discussions I had with everyone: “Hi! What’s your name? Where do you go to school? What’s your major?” However, there are some more interesting ones. One lost kid started talking to me about her pet ferret, after I let it slide through a casual conversation on the C2 that I had a guinea pig, though I wish I could say all of those sorts of discussions were pleasant. Long story short, I had to resist the urge recently not to turn around and clock two p-frosh who wouldn’t stop using the words “fag” and “gay” as derogatory terms.

Looking back, I sort of wish I did it. It would have been an unforgettable lesson for them in terms of what’s not okay to say, something that will undoubtedly serve them well if they do decide to go to Duke. Also, I wouldn’t have backed down from my policy of not tolerating any bull. I could have not-so-subtly shown off my LGBT Center button. I could even have just told them that it wasn’t polite to do that and that college called for maturity beyond that required in high school. I could have addressed that exchange in a number of ways, but shockingly for my standards, I didn’t say anything. They got off the bus, none the wiser about the mental battle I had just fought.

I’ve thought about this again and again, and nothing comes to mind. Maybe you can answer the question that I can’t answer for myself. I’m seriously stuck, and can’t think of any good explanation. Maybe you’ve had to ask yourself the same thing before. So what’s the question? Here it is:

If I’ve acted before, why didn’t I act this time?

1 comment:

  1. I love this post! You raise some very interesting points. I also feel torn in situations like you describe here. I'm not one to censor other people, and I certainly don't want to attack people I don't even know, but I also feel like these people need to realize that their language won't be tolerated at Duke. It's a really tricky situation. On one hand, I understand their immaturity; they're just high schoolers. On the other hand, however, they are some of the best and brightest students this country has to offer; certainly they can do better.

    I'm not sure exactly what you were thinking at the time, but I know I probably would've mulled over my options as well, though ultimately I likely would have said nothing as well. Maybe a crowded bus would be an awkward place to call somebody out like that? Everyone in that tight of a space would have been able to watch such a situation unfold, and it probably would have been embarrassing for all involved. That being said, don't beat yourself up over not acting. The fact that you are not one to normally let this go is courageous and respectable--one incident of inaction won't diminish that.

    On a lighter note, you are one lucky Dukie if you never see a line at Alpine!