BackgroundInterview Date:December 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Queer
Graduation Year: 2022
High School Experience: I’m from Brooklyn, but my high school was in Queen, New York. I went to a public school with a graduating class of about 600 students. There was a culture of going to college there.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Undeclared, but I want to double major in either Anthropology, Sociology, and/ or Women’s and Gender Studies
Minor: Undeclared, but I want to minor in either English or Computer Science
Extracurricular Activities: Association of Black Collegians, Nia, which is a women of color empowerment group, Queer People of Color, and women’s club basketball.
What has been your favorite class so far?
I think my favorite class has been my freshman year seminar. I’m taking a class on the 1960s called The 1960’s and Social Change. I love the professor, he makes class really interesting.
What has been your least favorite class so far?
My Introduction to Sociology class. It’s not because I don’t like the class or the professor, it’s just that I have a lot of prior knowledge on the subject, so, especially in the beginning of the semester, it was a lot of repetition for me and that made the class boring. I think if I didn’t have prior knowledge I would enjoy the class.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s collaborative. If I don’t want to study by myself, I don’t have to because there’s always a study group of people willing to let you take a seat. At my high school there was an underlying competition of people asking, “What did you get on the quiz?” but that doesn’t exist here. How you do doesn’t matter to anybody else.
Is there anything that you feel Lafayette has done especially well or poorly so far academically?
I think the requirement of having support systems is something Lafayette does really well. During first year orientation, week we got a PARDner who is an upperclassman who can walk you through the way things work on campus. They tell about how to register for classes and you check in with them a few times during the semester to see where we’re at. We also have a Writing Associate with our first-year seminar class who can help review your writing. There are also drop-in hours at the Learning Center. I think the fact that Lafayette pushes all these things is something they’ve done really well. Even if you didn’t’ know how to ask for help it’s already there for you to take advantage of.
On and Around Campus
Where do you live on campus?
Freshman: Watson Hall with one roommate
How was transitioning from you Brooklyn, NY to Easton, PA?
It was really interesting. I have family members that live in the suburbs so it’s not a completely foreign experience for me. I actually kind of like the quiet. The only thing that was really jarring is that everything closes so early. Everything closes at like 10 o’clock. It’s interesting coming from a place where you can get stuff 24/7 to a place where you have to time it if you’re going to be up late because everything shuts down.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I feel really safe on campus. I walk home by myself too often and nothing has ever happened. I’ve read the newspaper and there have been a lot of reports of sexual assault. I’ve had a couple of encounters with public safety, and they’ve always made me feel really safe and want to do the best they can do. I’ve never felt in any harm and I know that if something were to happen I can call the emergency number for public safety. The later it gets the more I see public safety on campus, so I like that.
Pros and Cons of being in Easton, PA?
It’s different for me because even though I’m in Easton, I’m really just at Lafayette. I don’t go down the hill that often.
(1) There are a lot of restaurants.
(2) If you have a car, you can get to stuff really easily because there’s a lot of stuff in the two neighboring towns.
(1) The fact that everything closes so early.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Lafayette?
I often party at the Black Cultural Center called Portlock or one of my upperclassman friends will have a kickback or get together at their house. I’m usually at one of those things on a Friday or Saturday. Some of my friends in my grade have get-togethers in their dorm rooms, but I don’t go to those that often. If there’s an event at The Spot, I’ll probably go to that. The Spot is down the hill but is still owned by the campus where the school has officially sanctioned parties. The Association of Black Collegians has a party called Grown & Sexy at the Spot. The International Student Association also just had a party there.
How happy are you with the weekend options at Lafayette?
I’m happy with it. I enjoy parties. I like the fact that if I want to party there is a party for me to go to, but I’m also somebody who sometimes prefers a more laidback kind of thing. So, sometimes I’ll just do a movie night at somebody’s house or we’ll get together and play cards. The fact that I have options and can choose what I want to do on any given weekend is good for me.
What have been your favorite times so far at Lafayette?
One of my favorite times was there was a get together at somebody’s house and a lot of upperclassmen came from a group that I’m a part of but hadn’t met yet, so that was really fun because I got to meet a lot of people.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I think just through association with people. I met one friend and she introduced me to her friends and then we all became a big group.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
As a student of color specifically, I think the social scene is very active and welcoming. There’s not a sense of, “you’re a freshman, we can’t speak to you.” Everybody wants to get to know you and see you succeed. I’ve never felt isolated because I’m a freshman, I’ve always felt welcome in the community.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
People of different sexual orientations mix more than people of different racial groups, but it definitely still happens. It’s not like we all stand to one side.
How has being a person who identifies as queer influenced your social scene?
A lot of the people who I hang out with identify in a similar way. It hasn’t affected it too much at this point because it’s not a big deal, it’s just a thing that is what it is.
How strong is the Black community on campus?
I think it’s extremely strong. There’s an attitude on campus where it is imperative that the Black community is strong. I don’t know if that is because of the generation before or the students on campus now. Everybody is very welcoming. It’s really nice that the fact when you walk into a space everybody says hi to you. It’s not a long conversation, but the fact that people say, “hi,” and acknowledge you in a space is something I really appreciate. I can sit down with a group of people who I don’t know very well and have a two-hour long conversation, and that’s something that happens often.
One of the first weekends in the fall the Association of Black Collegians had their first meeting which was an introduction for the freshmen to get to know people and get to know the school. Upperclassmen were really frank about their experiences here and one of the things they said was that they don’t know what their experience would be like if it weren’t for the other Black students and that it’s really important to build those relationships with each other.
How strong is the LGBT community?
It’s strong. For the most part, we all know each other and we all hang out with each other. I do know that the Queer People of Color group was created because of a sense of otherness with Quest. I don’t feel as if there’s a strong connection with the White queer community on campus, but I know that the queer community of color is very strong. It’s also deeply embedded with the rest of the Black community so it’s not as if you’re isolated from the rest of the Black community, we’re all together.
How would you describe the student body?
I think there are a bunch of different types of students here. The ones who I interact with are all ones who do well in school but also know how to have a good time. Somebody who goes to Lafayette is intellectually smart but also socially smart. They’re striving to do more and to do better. A lot of students that I’ve met are involved in lots of different activities and are actively engaged.
How has going to a school the size of Lafayette impacted your social experience?
I love it because the school number wise is small, but the campus is huge. [There are about 2,600 undergraduates on a campus that is about 340 acres.] Every day I see somebody new and I don’t feel like I know everybody on campus, which I personally like. I’ve never felt constrained or confined, there is always somewhere I can move to on campus.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how accommodating was the office to your needs?
I do receive financial aid, I’m on a full-tuition scholarship. The scholarship made going here an opportunity for me.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Lafayette before entering as a freshman?
I did a ridiculous amount of research and nothing really surprised me when I got here. One thing I wish I knew more about is the transition to college and that everybody is going through the same thing that you are. The feelings you have about being in a new space and being away from your friends and family is not an isolated experience.
What is something a prospective Black student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
You are going to be seen as Black, so there are things that happen here that will only happen at a predominantly White institution. Nothing particularly controversial has happened, which I’m grateful for. I’ve been going to predominantly White institutions since I was in middle school, so there wasn’t anything that surprised me about going here. But, if you’re a student who has never interacted with White people and don’t understand their culture, there are things that will happen that will surprise you. If you’ve never been the only Black face in a classroom, that is something a lot of students struggle with. That’s a personal journey every Black student goes through at a predominantly White institution goes through, so know that you belong here.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Go to the [recreation] center. It’s beautiful. I go to the gym regularly and the weight room is beautiful and there’s a pool. If you’re a Black student, check out Portlock Black Cultural Center because a lot of events happen there.
Reasons to attend Lafayette:
1) The education here will take you pretty much anywhere you want to go.
2) The professors are here to help. They actually care about your well-being and you can strike up a conversation with any one of them.
3) The campus is beautiful. Being able to look outside and it looks beautiful, even on the most disgusting day, really impacts the way you feel about your day. That’s a frivolous detail, but I think it impacts you a lot because if you feel bad and you go outside and it looks bad, it impacts how you feel.
4) The main library is gorgeous.
Reasons to not attend Lafayette:
1) If you don’t want a small school experience. If you want to [be anonymous], don’t come here because it’s really easy to meet people and it’s a tight-knit community.
2) I know a lot of students complain about the social scene. If you don’t want to have parties with the same people on a routine basis, don’t come to Lafayette. If you want more variety with the social scene. I think the size is really the only thing that is a deterrent.