Millsaps College claims to support each student in their beliefs. However, this is not what is seen on a day-to-day basis. Last year, for example, the school hosted a drag show, and some classes, like mine, were forced to go to it. Not being very religious, I was not offended by the show, and I actually enjoyed watching it; however, some of my friends in the class are very religious and were made extremely uncomfortable. They couldn’t speak up, though, for fear that they would be called out for not being inclusive of all types of people or for being anti-gay.
This year, after the election, the divide worsened and the treatment of some of our students, myself included, became so bad that I tried to leave the school. In fact, I would be clanging my cowbell at MSU right now if it had not been so difficult to get credits to transfer. On election day, I wore my Trump hat (as many were wearing gear with their candidates motto on it). My professor asked me if I was wearing it ironically. When I said no, which made me uncomfortable, he then said anybody who wanted to vote could be excused. While I am not sure if my hat disgusted him, I sure felt that my answer prompted him to let us leave and felt like I was being discriminated against for my beliefs. The shoes above, however, are worn by another student on this campus and no professor has asked her about them.
After the election, our school promoted a lot of events to make students feel safe on campus because the stigma around Trump was that he was anti-anybody who was not white, heterosexual, or male.
While this isn’t true, our campus absorbed this belief. They skipped class the day after he was elected because they didn’t “feel safe”. Safety pins were worn by people showing others that they were safe to talk to–as though students who voted for Trump would judge and harass them. The Muslim student union hosted what was supposed to be a good-intentioned unity circle. This instantly became all anti-Trump and people had shirts on saying “Nasty Woman” and “Pussy Grabs Back”. The Trump students were not allowed to stand in unity with the other students. In fact, I was wearing my Trump hat and tried to attend and several students called me “disgusting”. By allowing this to happen, our school was basically saying that anybody who voted for Trump was in the wrong and should feel ashamed and, for a while, I did even though I had no reason to be.
The election does not stand alone, though. On the 3rd floor of the Academic Center, some very graphic art emerged-3 dimensional vaginas. At first there were four. Then, they were moved and, upon visiting the gallery, I found a room with nearly 20. Not only do these offend religious students, but even women who are rape survivors are made uncomfortable. PTSD and panic attacks can be brought on by anything relating to the incident and seeing a vagina with a knife inside of it (which is meant to represent the penetration of a rapist) surely stirs up uncomfortable feelings that the student will be forced to bring with her to class.
Apart from the art, the division died down until some gratified walls showed up in the Christian Center (ironic…). These walls say things like “Fuck Trump”, “Vaginas Rule”, “Phil Bryant Can Suck a Fuck”, and many more vulgar things. Ironically, in the corner of one of the walls is written “Be Kind Whenever Possible”. It is hypocritical of our students to say this and then treat those with more conservative views as lesser people. Conservative views, by the way, at Millsaps usually do NOT pertain to harassing people over sexual orientation, race, or religion, but rather the person simply does not think these things to be more important than their own beliefs. What I mean by this is that conservative students feel their beliefs are equal to others, but our school treats people that are not male, heterosexual, white, or Christian as more important.
Our school didn’t host any celebratory parties for those who had voted for Trump, but they allowed people to miss class to mourn over their losing candidate. There isn’t a room in the Christian Center (and I am proud students with my beliefs haven’t done this) designated to anti-Hillary speech, yet there are at least 2 rooms with graffiti that is anti-Trump.
We cannot unite as a school when the school allows some people’s beliefs to be more important than others. And this does not extend just to the students, faculty are also to blame for the division and mistreatment.