a student-run publication that seeks to provide space for voices that are not being heard on our campus. we are grounded by politics that are radical, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-classist, anti-homophobic, anti-ableist, and anti-transphobic (against all forms of oppression) and that reject the structural neo-liberal paradigm that characterizes middlebury college and its official publications
[TW Suicide] I went to a NJ public school. Small for a public school, about 160 in each grade. It was a “good” school- in the system’s sense of the word. At the end of freshman year, I began to notice that one of my friends seemed less engaged and always distracted. She would walk through our hallways with her head down. I asked her if she wanted to talk and after a couple days of her calling and then saying “never mind” or trying to meet in the morning before school, we finally had a conversation. I was in my room in my family’s house in the suburbs of NYC. We had a white picket fence. Wasn’t this the American dream? Through the phone she told me that she had decided, had made a pact with herself that is she didn’t feel “better”- happier, less confused, more alive- by the summer, that she would be done. She didn’t want to be here anymore. I asked her what she meant by “be here.” It’s not something a 14 year old, or anyone, really, can fathom so quickly. She made her intentions clear without actually stating that she would kill herself. After the conversation I shook with grief on the downstairs couch in my mother’s arms, telling her everything. We contacted the school. For the next two years of my life, I felt responsible for her life. This was deeply painful and unhealthy for me, but I kept showing up because it was a vital burden that I felt no one else was carrying. So many phone conversations. An unceasing worry that manifested itself viscerally. Eventually, four years after our first conversation, I finally realized that being her sole supporter was not alright and I told her that we could not speak anymore. That I was not in a place to be able to receive her energy anymore. Since this first event, other friends, acquaintances, and people I know have told me that they too are hurting. Here at Middlebury College I have had multiple conversations with students about well-being. Two of my good friends recently accompanied their friend’s roommate to the emergency room just down the road, after he tried to kill himself. He tried to kill himself. Please, look at these words. Hear them. We need a shift. A gentle opening towards a more well society. Our pace of life is too fast. Our stress due to arbitrary unexamined assumptions. A couple of months ago, we experienced a death within the student body. This student killed himself. Out of the 2,400 students at Middlebury, perhaps 100 showed up to the candlelight vigil. It was 8 o’clock on a Monday. The rest of the student body was doing homework. I am not okay with this. Our collective values have become skewed. I refuse to believe that the student body did not feel the deep sadness that the loss of a young one deserves. We, as students, are allowed to feel the sadness. We ought to cry. We ought to wail. But instead we work on our twelve page papers, our lab report due Friday, the smattering of readings regularly assigned. I am not okay with this. And I believe that you are not okay with this either. I want to be held and to hold others when there is a death. This is the nature of being human. It scares me when I think about what it means not to cry when someone dies. We are a collective of desensitized people. But we are also a collective of innate healers, grievers, lovers, and huggers and I believe and I believe that you believe that our numbness is simply a placeholder stemming from our deep love and feeling until we are allowed to feel again. There are a few of us who take on a larger portion of the grieving of the world, whose courage allows us to try our hardest to evoke change. By being here right now, I know that you are part of this community. As individuals we cannot carry the burden of this grief. I implore you all to imagine a society in which the question, “How are you?” “How are YOU?” “HOW are you?” is met with much more than F.I.N.E. (fucked-up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional). A culture that recognizes crying as vital and anger as passionate energy to be released and both as stemming from a deeper love. Please, next time you casually ask “how someone is” really listen to the answer. And when someone asks you, answer. Allow yourself the to truthfully answer.