Hi, my name is Molly and I have been a Community Advisor, Trisk’s general coordinator, a member of the Intercultural Center’s (ICC) Programing Board and the Sexuality and Queer Studies Undergraduate Representative. I was an original task force member to bring the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) to Brandeis, and I was asked for some reflections on my time at Brandeis.
You see, during my first week as a midyear, I went to the activities fair and ventured off by myself onto the third floor of the SCC and met some hip dudes in tie-dye tees with Ollie in rainbow sweatshirts. They told me about Trisk, the LGBTQ+ social group on campus. The next week I went to Trisk, a little unsure, a little excited, a little intimidated and a whole lot nervous, but the members made me feel at home; they made me feel included.
About three weeks later when I broke my foot/leg/ankle, I made the choice to stay on campus. Traveling around was nevertheless pretty hard; I was a midyear and I hadn’t had the opportunity to get to know anybody too well, and I fell into a very deep depression. It was really the members of Trisk who had me coming back each week—to go to meetings, to get meals around campus and to help set up events as the mid-year ICC rep—that got me through that time, and honestly, they are the reason I am here today. The Brandeis queer community is very near and dear to my heart, for they have taught me resilience, strength and overall love and compassion and I just want to take the time and space to thank all of you for being yourselves.
At Brandeis, although we like to think we are so very hip and with it when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues, we are not, and you are probably not. So I ask that you (yes, you) please for the love of all things, talk to your friends (all of them, not just the ones you know/think are a part of the LGBTQ+ community) and ask what you can be doing better in your friendships to make them feel comfortable and loved. Right, because if you don’t want to make your friends feel they are able to be their most comfortable selves in their relationships with you, why are you friends?
I attended the ICC and Lavender Graduation ceremonies and noticed that while they are different in some of their structural elements, at their core they represent something I both love and resent about Brandeis. Student leaders are the foundation of this university; students are given the ability to learn many transferable skills in the leadership positions they take on. But so much of the time, they should not need to be taking on this extra burden of student leadership. Students should not need to be working so hard in order to make sure that the people who look like them—the people who are like them—can see all the possibilities of themselves. I want to thank all of the activists on campus who fight with sit-ins in Bernstein Marcus, in closed-door meetings, behind computer screens and everywhere else. The work you all do is so very important, and you are the reason many of us are still here today.
As I leave Brandeis, I hope to leave you, my fellow Brandeisians with a few messages. First, your friends and peers are your first lines of defense; let them carry you and help carry them, as à la Pat Benatar, “Love is a Battlefield,” so be there for one another. Second, grades are NOT a measurement of your self worth! Diminishments of your mental and physical health are not worth better grades. Third, thank and appreciate the people who make differences in your life; a handwritten note goes the longest of ways, and the “real world” doesn’t have a mailroom with free intercampus mail. Finally, be your truest self. The journey there will help you find all the pieces you believed were missing.