When I hear people talk about UNC many people think of sunny quads, winning basketball teams, and stellar academics. This is no different among many of the students that attend the university either but the reality is that for many of us attending school here has not been an amazing experience. In fact it has be a very hard and arduous path and not something I am looking forward to recount to anyone in coming years. While people are doting on how beautiful the quad the quad is in the spring or how amazing their educational experience is here’s what I’ll be thinking of:

I’ll think about a university that seduces people of color with a promise that they will be included and represented here yet when they arrive they become tokens in classes full of “good white liberals” with tons of microaggressions. I’ll think about the white man who told me that black people don’t belong on this campus and about that white woman on the p2p who told me she had an intrinsic hate of black people. I’ll think about the other white woman who called the police on me for having a pocket knife and the elderly white man who turned down my help because I was black. I’ll think about all those white people who would move when I got on the bus and I’ll think about white people who cannot or will not listen to anything a person of color has to say and will do anything (and I mean anything) to derail conversations and make them about their guilt or hurt. I’ll think about the administration who has, on more than one occasion, told me that they weren’t surprised that I wasn’t succeeding at UNC because I was black and who told me that I should just be glad I’m still here and to stop worrying about succeeding.

I’ll also think about how incredibly hard everything at this university became once my depression hit rock bottom. I’ll think about how absence policies became the bane of my existence when I simply could not get out bed in the morning. I’ll think about how my depression has led me down a dismal path of hatred of everything administrative at carolina because trying to do anything is like jumping through burning hoops of fire in order to get it approved. I’ll think about how professors dismiss depression and anxiety as real mental health issues and who tell you that you should drop out if you can’t keep up. I’ll think about how “friends” called me lazy and unmotivated while shouting “stop the stigma of mental health” in the pit a day or two later. I’ll think about how once my knee started being in constant pain it became impossible for me to navigate this university because of the uneven bricks and the largeness of the campus. I’ll think about how that is further complicated by all the incredibly ableist people around me who told me that I was moving too slow or that told me to simply “work through the pain.” I’ll think about how all of this was said in the spirit of the “carolina way”.

when I remember UNC I’ll remember feeling like I never truly found a community of people because I was always shaving off little bits of myself to fit into different spaces. I’ll remember seeking “refuge” in a queer community that was full of people that perpetuated the same stereotypes that the sexual majority perpetuated. I’ll remember accepting wrong pronouns from certain friends, the wrong sexuality from other friends, and putting up with racist remarks from other friends because no one at Carolina could ever truly get it right. I’ll remember a certain air of elitism that came with attending Carolina and that made it okay for students here to put down students at other universities because their schools didn’t have the same prestige that Carolina had.

I’ll remember [white] sororities throwing racist parties and I’ll remember [white] fraternities turning away black people.

I’ll also remember the fact that this University (as well as many others) are in bed with college athletics and do not care about what that promotes.

I’ll remember its treatment of sexual assault survivors and I’ll remember it’s commitment to trying to shut those survivors up because it didn’t want to lose rank.

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s beautiful Carolina parade but to say that I love this place would be a huge overstatement. I have met great friends here and have enjoyed some of the opportunities that I have been afforded by attending this university but I will not let my experience go unheard.

It is high time we began listening to the experiences of marginalized people because often times they represent a flaw in our institutions and something that could be improved upon. If we listen to the experiences of those who haven’t had a stellar time at this university (and many other “elite” institutions) we may well began to see that these places have a lot of work to do in order to create environments that foster learning and growth for everyone at the university and not just a select few.

Addison E.

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