Sarah Lawrence College is a beautiful and strange place, much like any institution that brings together people of different backgrounds and interests. All of us students are here to get an education, a unique and individual education that we get to craft and shape throughout our time here. That is essentially why all of us were interested in attending Sarah Lawrence over other colleges and universities.
But we tend to get tunnel vision on this campus. We get absorbed in our circles of influence and the departments we care most passionately about, and our views of the school and the types of students that should be here narrow.
There is no “typical Sarah Lawrence student”, and it is a myth we need to stop perpetuating. We are not only a school of poem-writing-hipster-anticonformist-dancer-liberals, though many students do identify with some or all of those groups, and that is a fact that should be celebrated. The existence of the stereotype of a Sarah Lawrence student is hurtful and judgmental for each of us here, no matter how much we embody that stereotype; we are all different.
I’m very different than most Sarah Lawrence students, and I’ve been disappointed in the general response I’ve received from the student body about my passions. Yes, I actually enjoy learning multivariable calculus and chemistry and taking other math and science courses. Yes, I actually enjoy (even love) getting up in the dark and early morning to go run eight miles before most of campus is even awake. Yes, I actually enjoy having my schedule limited and sometimes dictated by sports conflicts, and I actually find my athletic commitments help my time management. No, I don’t want to take, for example, a poetry course, but I will gladly discuss your course and conference work with you regardless of the subject because I’m excited by your passion. Yes, I actually expect people to respect the choices I am making regarding my education, because I respect the decisions of others for their educations.
I came to Sarah Lawrence to interact and learn from people that don’t think in the same way that I do, that don’t study what I find interesting, that aren’t me. I wanted to be stretched and challenged in my education, by both the coursework and my peers; to me, that is the definition of a liberal arts education.
Participating in collegiate athletics is as much a personal choice as participating in any extracurricular activity or group or department on campus. Each has its stigmas, but none of those stereotypes accurately depicts any of the individuals involved. We all want a lot of things and we all think that our passions are the most important things in the world. Not everything can be the most important to everyone; the world doesn't work that way. People are different. It's annoying, but it's how it works. Don't put another person down just because that person doesn’t share your passion. If you listen, you’ll discover a perspective you never considered.
by Justin Heftel ‘17