Senior Retrospective: Chris Brown

I t’s currently 1 a.m. on a Tuesday, and I’m sitting in my room alone in the dark listening to “All These Things That I’ve Done” by The Killers while I’m writing this. Sometimes trying to incite emotional feelings with a song works. Gotta get all of the cliches out of the way first. I can’t believe it’s ending, it’s been a wild four years, I will cherish these memories forever. I think that covers it? Good.

I really didn’t know what I wanted this little diddy to be about when I was asked to write one. So apologies if it’s just a miss mosh of thoughts and incomprehensible blabber, I really don’t do well with goodbyes. Before I get into the things I loved about this weird place–and trust me, I do have things I loved–I have to get some thoughts off of my chest. Vassar College is not everything and a bag of chips. There are many problems with this institution. Not that there aren’t enormous problems with I’m sure every other liberal arts college out there, or problems with everything in this world honestly, but I can only speak to my personal experiences. I came into Vassar as a green little first-generation college student. My father was a member of the armed forces and my mother was an immigrant from the Philippines. I applied to Vassar on a whim, and didn’t learn how to pronounce its name until the summer before my first year here. Needless to say, I had no clue what I was doing. But I had a constructed idea what a college was supposed to be like.

Then I went here. I thrived enough to inject myself into student publication and student government, and eventually became one of the Vice Presidents of the VSA this year. That’s when I truly began to question why things just seemed to be the way they were at Vassar. This campus is not safe for everyone that goes here all the time, and that to me is a fundamental flaw in the system. Members of the trans community are constantly being misgendered in and outside of the classroom. Our affinity resources like the ALANA Center are severely underfunded. But nothing was, and nothing is, being done about these huge, huge issues. Learning just how much of a political game everything truly was at a top tier level was super disheartening. Which I guess I should get used to, because I’m going to law school, and I best be able to deal with bureaucracy there.

Vassar does not do everything for its students. And yet, I am so grateful that I was able to go here. Not only so I could first hand see how bureaucracy really just messes up a lot of things for a lot of people. But I’m grateful that I was surrounded by so many people who were able to invoke a discourse within myself that I didn’t know existed.

When I first got to Vassar, I remember walking in on my floor to a conversation between two strangers about the intricacies of South African politics. Shouts out to Maya and Matias for giving me my very first truly Vassar moment. I immediately felt in over my head. Then I started to figure out how stuff worked around here. For any random parents reading this that are trying to understand the Vassar experience, when your child says there really is no place just like Vassar and no people just like Vassar students, believe them.

Being here was eye opening. I learned so much from my peers, and I truly am so thankful to everyone who helped me figure out who I was. Corny, right?

Being here was exhausting. I have never gone through more moments of just complete and utter frustration and anger. I’ve cried over the stupidest things, and this place has a weird way of taking whatever emotion you’re feeling, especially the bad ones, and magnifying it by ten. Even this week, I’m seeing the senior class in this warped reality that is Vassar act out in very odd ways. It’s not a horrible feeling. I think I’m just all burnt out. I’m tired.

Being here was the best thing that could have happened to me. In my limited amount of life, and my even limited amount of time I’ve spent here at Vassar, I’ve learned what it truly means to learn from real life experiences. I have messed up so hard on a lot of things since coming to Vassar. I’ve lost people who I thought I would call best friends for life over stupid stuff. I’ve seen so many people here, students and administrators alike, who I know I DO NOT want to be become or be like in my normal, post-Vassar life. I’ve learned a lot of what not to do in order to be a good person. I know myself, I know what makes me happy, and I can take that information into my life and move forward. Thank you so much Vassar, sincerely.

I don’t want this to come off as a “Vassar sucks” rant, because it doesn’t. I truly love this place, and I have made friends and memories that will bring me comfort for the rest of my life. But I’ve learned to question my environment here, and I’ve learned that however perfect a place seems on paper, there are always a few things wrong with it that after being in that environment for an extended period of time, they start to drive you a little bit kookoo. But I guess it’s all part of the journey. Vassar has made me resilient, Vassar has made me strong, and Vassar had made me grateful.

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