One November night in 2012, a student named Benjamin Conway vandalized Trinity’s campus with three simple words: You belong here.
You’ll most recognize the phrase from the stickers the university has given to new students for the past two years, but if you walk around the less popular parts of upper campus and stare down at your feet, you’ll find a more intimate rendition of the words in white stenciled lettering.
Conway’s vandalism remained anonymous during his time at Trinity. When the Trinitonian reached out in 2016, he explained that the vandalism was a call to action for students.
“You belong in this physical space to be doing whatever the hell you want to do. Reading a book, hanging out smoking a cigarette, or making out with your girlfriend or having a damn existential debate. That’s what the liberal arts college is about. I didn’t see that happening at Trinity,” Conway said at the time.
We wonder if Conway would think much has changed.
This campus should be your home, right? We have to live here for three years, and sure, there are ways to make things feel homier (see page 13 to read more about how plants can light up your dorm room or page 12 to read about how less is more when it comes to dorm decoration). But there’s more to home than just decor. Home is somewhere you feel you belong.
We know the university is trying to make this home for us. When students confronted issues of diversity and inclusion on campus, Trinity elevated a coordinator position to a director position and created the Diversity and Inclusion Office, they held a discussion on race in admissions and they created the Afro-Affinity Hall. But how much of that would’ve happened if the students hadn’t raised the issue? Surely, never having more than four percent black students must have made the administration suspect issues of diversity and inclusion.
The university asks for our feedback, but they don’t always listen to it. When students expressed frustration with Chick-fil-A’s presence on campus and Student Government Association passed a resolution to get rid of the historically discriminatory company, the administration rejected that resolution just over a week later.
Maybe it’s too much to ask to want to feel at home when we’re at college. Maybe that’s a part of it, getting put into an uncomfortable situation and making yourself feel more comfortable, but there’s got to be more to it than that. The effort can’t only come from students; we have classes to attend and our health to worry about, mental and physical. We have jobs and families to worry about and friends to guide. We want to enjoy ourselves.
If Trinity wants its students to feel at home, to feel like they really belong here, they need to listen to us. Our time here will be our most transformative. We’re here to learn and to grow.