While I was a student at a university in lower Manhattan, girls threw (what they thought were) insults at me on Instagram. I provided paragraphs worth of facts to support my decision, the only response they had was “ew.” Later, when I did an Instagram takeover for a club I was in, I was targeted. What prompted all the harassment? I voted for Trump in 2020. This and many other events informed my decision to leave my swanky private school for the University of Alabama.
My political beliefs caused further discomfort in the classroom. At my former institution, I was forced to write a paper about why children’s shows need LGBTQ+ representation for one class, and for another I had to write about white privilege and police brutality. I refused to be indoctrinated with ideals I did not believe in, and was not willing to lie my way through school just for a good grade or a future job. I would rather be failed for stating my opinion than be a weak and compliant straight-A student.
Issues also arose in my living facility. My roommate and I had to write our pronouns on our door even though we did not want to. When people wrote “MAGA” and “Trump 2020” on the whiteboards on the doors on our floor, the RA sent out an email calling it a defacement and “childish form of harassment that will not be tolerated” because it violated their policy. A bolded line in the email said “everyone deserves to feel welcomed and accepted on this floor. Those who do not uphold the culture of inclusion will be held accountable.” The irony, of course, was that the welcoming and accepting attitudes extended only to liberals. The hypocrisy of that email was apparent to me and my roommate, but no one else seemed to get it–that, or they refused to stand up.
Political tension was not the sole reason I transferred south, but the environment was just not one I wanted to be in any longer, especially with many buildings boarded up, shut down, or off-limits due to my lack of a vaccination card.
I made the decision to transfer to the University of Alabama after my first year of school in New York because of its atmosphere and energy, courses that better reflect my interests than the major I had at my previous school, and the many opportunities it has for not only internships and jobs but also sports and other social clubs. The state of Alabama itself was a big draw for many of the same reasons. When I came to UA last fall, I felt at home. At my first football game, a section of the crowd started chanting “Let’s Go Brandon,” something I would have previously been shunned for saying. I was refreshed by the level of openness the students felt. I stopped living in fear of what people would say or do because I realized that the most important thing is to be true to yourself and never let people tell you what to believe. Speaking up about what I believe in has made me stronger and I am now in a place where I am happier and more honest about my opinion.
The best thing that came from my short time at school in New York was meeting my roommate, who is still today one of my best friends. We constantly walked on eggshells around people who were not worth being friends with in the first place because they could not accept our political views. We eventually grew tired of hiding our true selves from the people we hung out with. She taught me a lot about politics, inspired me to further educate myself, and helped me stand up for myself. She’s a big part of why I am where I am today. We both ended up transferring to different schools, but I am so grateful we were able to grow closer during that interesting first year of college. My life has changed in so many amazing ways since I came to Alabama, and I am so excited to meet more students with a passion for preserving the country I love.