Confessions of a Transfer Student: From a Women’s College to Co-Ed

Photo Courtesy of the Smith College Twitter Rachael Sproule (Transferred from Smith College) Contributing Writer

Read this in a secure location. I write to you as an informant.  I write to you as someone who, by consequence of leaving Smith College, had to transition into a co-ed world. I was shocked, rattled and often disheartened by what I experienced when the ratio of Y chromosomes increased. Someday, you too will leave Smith College, and I humbly–and without any expectation– would like to submit a list of the top 10 things I wish somebody told me before I transferred. In short, everything I learned, I learned from Smith College.

Smith’s faculty, including its president, professors, administration, housekeepers, dining hall staff and every familiar face who is on the Smith payroll are unparalleled in their dedication to their students. Even as I was transferring, the staff were more polite and exceedingly more motivated than the universities to which I was actually showing interest in attending. I doubt that there is anywhere else in the world where a college president would give a damn about hearing students’ opinions on something such as divesting from hydraulic extraction. Relish the fact that you have the chance for you to physically embrace your president.

You won’t see breasts at any other university convocation and will most likely be escorted off the premises for expecting otherwise. Please don’t ask me how I know that.

Common sense isn’t nearly as common as it should be. Yes, I think that all love is equal, and if love doesn’t discriminate, why should marriage? No, I don’t want to attend your protest of Planned Parenthood! What do you mean you don’t have Mountain Day?

Bananas may equate to prison cigarettes once you leave. Maybe it’s just me and I should seek further professional help, but because of the fast disappearance of bananas at Smith, I inadvertently got into the habit of taking an excessive amount of this fruit whenever offered. As I type, I have five stashed in my backpack from one outing to the dining hall. And, no, I ain’t ashamed.

You should call out that jerk for making that comment. You should point out that that wasn’t funny. You should say something when someone expects anything because of how you identify your gender. At Smith, the question posed to the student body is often “Why aren’t you outraged?” However, elsewhere it can be “Why are you?” The world inhales and exhales sexist remarks and pours the cement for double standards, and many times it will go unnoticed. Equality shouldn’t be a fight that needs to be waged, but it is. Don’t despair, though. You are well-armed.

Unexpected and unwelcomed academic changes can occur. I became distractingly insecure, answered questions more and more infrequently and would often wait until a crowd cleared before asking for clarification on a topic. Please don’t let this happen. You are as intelligent as anyone else in the world, and the only judgment you need to answer to is your own.

Sexual health is unnecessarily taboo. This is both unfortunate and dangerous allowing students to make informed and healthy decisions. I once lived in a four-building, four-story dorm where there wasn’t a single contraception device available. Either universities don’t believe it is their responsibility to promote safe sex, or they think that students shouldn’t be having sex at all. Neither opinion is acceptable.

Other colleges have these odd contraptions called “football stadiums.” There are strange occurrences where droves of people, including non-students, come and sit in these structures and participate in what I can only assume is some sort of pagan ritual. Naturally, I hide in my room and wait out these malicious ceremonies. However, you’re expected to not only attend but to want to attend. Pray you never find this madness.

I can no longer walk home alone late at night, having by necessity developed a nasty habit of calling a parent or friend for a walk afterhours. This is quite alarming, and yet even more alarming is the fact that female students walking home alone at night was something my university explicitly discouraged. We, as students, deserve a place where education can occur without fearing compromised safety. We, as students, deserve better than “She was asking for it” or “She was drunk.” We, as students, deserve to be treated as students first and foremost. It is beyond ridiculous that, in the 21st century, these rights should be considered both a rarity and a luxury. Smith is ahead of the curve in this, and the rest of the world has serious catching up to do.

There is no place like Smith College. There is nobody like you. I congratulate you on a wonderful decision and the hard work that must have led to it, and I wish you nothing but the best and know you will succeed. After all, when has a Smithie not?