Vassar prides itself on broadening the horizons of its students’ minds. Before coming to Vassar, few students had had sufficient exposure to the various systems of oppression operating in our world, nor recourse against the injustices they encountered. Arriving at Vassar free from the strictures of secondary education, students can now leverage their liberal arts savvy to right the wrongs of centuries. For some students, however, knowing just what to take up arms against can be overwhelming. First-year Kate Declan shares her awakening to social justice.
“So, like, before Vassar I’d seen some stuff on the internet. There was this group of girls at my prep school, they talked about intersectionality a lot, but I thought that was just something that had to do with really short bangs. Maybe denim, too, I was never really sure. I just knew they were all really into Tumblr. After coming here, though, like, wow; I can’t believe I’d never noticed all this around me. I mean, I knew about, like, racism and whatnot, but did you know that women experience discrimination too? Like, wow. At first, I wasn’t sure what I could do. I’m just one sprout in a big world; what difference can I make?” said Declan.
After visiting a women’s studies class during the add/drop period, Declan had an epiphany.
“The professor, she was talking, I think, and I was like: I know what I can do. Martin Luther King Jr. protested. I can protest. I can take to the streets,” said Declan.
Declan soon hit another roadblock: figuring out exactly which issues to address.
“I talked to some of my social justice-minded peers about my idea to protest, and they totally shot me down. They said I didn’t have any idea what I was talking about. They said my aims ‘lacked focus.’ That’s complacency for you though. All talk and no action. I’m a human of action,” said Declan.
One of Declan’s wet blanket friends gave her opinion.
“Kate said she wanted to protest, so I asked her about what. She said injustice. I asked her what injustice she wanted to protest. She told me I needed to check my privilege, and that injustice exists all around us, and that I need to pay attention to the bigger picture. I asked her if she had a specific injustice in mind, and she said she wanted to protest ‘things like pronouns and racial constructs.’ I volunteer as an ESL tutor with immigrant children every afternoon, so I didn’t exactly have time for…that,” said the total buzzkill.
Declan realized that she wasn’t the only person pushing for change on campus.
“I started asking around, and it turns out a lot of people are protesting things. I guess that’s a good thing, but I don’t know. They were taking on things on campus, like unsanitary working conditions in the dorm buildings. If I want to make things better for maintenance workers on campus, I’ll just clean my own hair out of the drain. I think bigger picture, like the country, the world,” said Declan.
When asked about Declan’s interest in the big picture, her feminist friend offered further commentary.
“Jesus Christ. I really don’t have time to talk about this. I’m going to a city council meeting on hazardous waste disposal. I swear to God, though, if I hear one more thing Kate says about ‘the large scale’ or ‘if you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention,’ I will scream,” said the total snowflake.
Despite claims that her efforts are too broad to be effective in any way, Declan has formed an org that meets twice a week to make signs for protests. Declan shared her vision for her new org.
“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. My goal with this org is to show that we’re constantly outraged. That way, someone’s paying attention to us,” said Declan.
Declan’s org is sure to keep its efforts in line with constantly evolving mainstream technology.
“I went ahead and started a Tumblr, and I think I’ve been enacting a lot of change on there. I’ve reblogged like five gifs of Ilana Glazer saying ‘Yas Queen,’ so that checks women off the list. But there’s still a lot of work to do. There are all these people commenting mean things. I guess there will always be haters. Some of those dudes make some hilarious jokes, though. Or maybe I just think they’re funny because I’m not like other girls,” said Declan.
While Declan’s org plans to occupy the College Center in a protest advocating for “Change,” her loser friend is volunteering with a community effort to clean trash out of the local watershed.