So by now, you may know two things about me. (1) I am an adjunct professor at a local university and (2) I LOVED college–Southern University A&M College, to be exact.
I work at a predominately white institution (PWI) (that’s up for debate, by the looks of campus). My college experience is so different from my experience as a teacher, as I constantly try to be the responsible “adult.” I never thought those two parts of my life would collide..until last week.
Every spring, the university brings awesome speakers in their speaker series, and if I’m teaching I usually require students to attend. So far, we’ve seen Angela Davis, Cornell West and this time, Spike Lee. Considering most of my students are born AFTER 1990, I wasn’t sure if they knew the impact of Mr. Lee’s work. If anything, maybe they’d heard about the drama over Tyler Perry (He didn’t really get into it, btw. He refused to disrespect his work, thank God.) or maybe they’d seen School Daze atleast a zillion times on TVONe. Bottom line: We weren’t going to miss out.
I arrived nearly two hours early to check out the new University Center and get a good spot in line, as the event was expected to reach capacity. Twenty minutes later, I walked out of the UC with a few old high school classmates and friends (it was open to the public) to wait for the doors to open. It was then that the annoyance and “I’m getting old” syndrome set in. Here’s what I saw:
The I’m On the Runway Girls: They walked pass everyone in line with the WTF face on, as if waiting in line was beneath them. (Yeah, they had to get in line, too). Open-toe sandals and cleavage with no jackets were on deck. Nevermind that it was 50 degrees out. Beauty is pain, right?
The group of AKAs: Since everyone of them had on pink and green from head to toe, I guess it must have been AKA week? Between hair flipping and whipping out stunna shades in cloudy weather weather, they managed to summon their entire chapter to their one spot in line (which was right behind me).
The Artsy-Fartsy group: The ones with the wayfarer glasses, skinny jeans, high-top fades. There’s bound to be atleast one cynical, sarcastic person in the group.
The Lonely Que: I know there’s a chapter on campus, but there’s always one visiting Que barking on the yard, asking, “Aye, where da Bruhz at?”
The Alphas (Event Hosts): If you’re greek, you’ve had this moment atleast once. It was their “program,” so half of them walked in late, suited up with an “I’m better than you” air about them. Get like them, I guess.
The Gay Dudes: A small group of guys who were obviously gay, wearing mean struts and attitudes to match their colorful jeans.
The Student Government Association Clique: The kids who always school/SGA paraphernalia and may possibly be all for said event or deadset against it because it’s “out of order.”
You get the point. With every scream and shriek from a sorority girl who saw her linesister or every guy who had a complaint about how many seats the Alphas were reserving for their “brothers,” I became more and more annoyed. I couldn’t relate to those “children.”
It then occurred to me that about 7 years ago, I was one of those people in atleast two of those groups aforementioned. Hell, when Homecoming comes around, I’m back in that student mode.
I lived to walk around the Union at noon on Pretty Wednesday (memories!) with my shades on, hair blowing in the wind. I even liked going to class (I’m a nerd, always will be) and kiki’ing with my classmates and clowning on the Strip. I loved seeing my linesisters, hugging them as if I didn’t just see them an hour ago. We were an army (better yet, a Navy). I, too, was a part of SGA, so I wore those t-shirts and encouraged students to come to campus events. I walked across a gigantic campus in tight jeans and heels damn near daily. And I loved every minute of it.
It’s just what you do. It’s college.
So while that huge, very eclectic group of students made me want to pull my eyelashes out one by one, I recognize that they’re just playing their parts as students. Maybe I was slightly jealous that my school ID has FACULTY on it now, instead of STUDENT. It is true that those years are the best years of your life, and you can’t get them back.
On the contrary, I’m grateful for my college experiences and they have better prepared me for the experiences I have as a full-grown adult. I’m thankful that I’m mature enough to know that play time is over and I can’t think or act like I did when I was 20 (except for Homecoming). I love my life–mortgage, bills, responsibility and all. I wouldn’t trade it to go back. Then my memories would be useless. What’s life without memories?
What do you remember most about your college experience, if you attended? Good, bad? If you’re in college now, are you ready for the Real World?