Madison: “Supporting Each Other as Badgers”

My name is Madison Kurth, but most people call me Madie. I’m from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and will be attending UW-Madison this fall with my twin brother, Andrew. I plan to double-major in biochemistry and microbiology, then attend medical school afterwards. My interests include learning about human physiology and how different diseases affect the body. Along with a love for cats, Law and Order SVU, Potbelly sandwiches, Ian’s Pizza, and writing, I’m also very fascinated by various cultures and ancient civilizations; from ancient Egypt, to vikings, to Native Americans, I loved learning about the history of various groups of people as a child. Furthermore, I would love to learn how to speak Arabic.

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My four years of high school went by a lot faster that I thought they would. I had been anticipating graduation weeks in advanced, thinking that at the ceremony I would be crying and that receiving my diploma would feel so unreal. But neither of those things happened. Maybe because by the time second semester of senior year rolled around, I was just tired of high school. Perhaps the fewer “ups” and the multiple “downs” of high school had me eagerly waiting for the end of my senior year and for the fresh start college is promised to bring. I realize that with this fresh start, comes the weirdness of not seeing my parents everyday or week. While nearly all incoming college freshmen anticipate their independence, it helped me to have my parents with to guide me through troubles and give me advice. Part of me is afraid that I will forget all the little things my parents taught me, and that it won’t be just enough to, when in a dilemma, think “What would mom or dad do?”

Some fears, though, go beyond forgetting what my parents taught me. The recent case of ex-Stanford student and swimmer, Brock Turner, emulates that very fear of sexual assault on campus. Many, including myself, fear that if they were to be attacked, they’d be blamed for their own assault; that officials may turn their heads away because the accused is a star player and/or comes from a privileged background. I am afraid that, just like what had occurred in Turner’s case, justice in such crimes will not be served and instead, college victims will be bombarded with fault as if what they were wearing, what they were drinking, had been the cause of the act committed against them. It seems that it’s much easier for some to blame the victim than to sympathize with the perpetrator; this in turn, making it more difficult for victims to come forward and strengthening the rape-culture that is prominent on college campuses nationwide.

Earlier this year, #TheRealUW posts flooded my Facebook newsfeed, relaying stories of racism on campus. On Yik-Yak, a social media site, a student complained how an African-American student received a full-tuition scholarship, insinuating she had only received the award because she was Black. An Asian student reported being spat at and told “Go back to China”. Constant slurs thrown about by White students using the “N-word”. Students making stereotypical “war cry sounds” interrupted a healing ceremony that recognized Native American victims of sexual assault.

I’m not going to act as if I know what it’s like to experience racism or that I understand completely how minority students feel about such attacks on campus, because I don’t. As a White female, I have never, and will never, experience racism. However, I recognize that such vulgar acts like these makes an unsafe and uncomfortable environment for my peers. Some of the great benefits of living in Milwaukee and going to a Milwaukee public high school were the diversity of the student body, the open-mindedness of the students, and the willingness of teachers to discuss issues of race, sexism, and the mistreatment of minority groups within our community and communities around the world. I think that open-mindedness is what I will miss the most. I know that, in college, there will be people from all over the world and individuals who are open-minded, but I know that there will be people who aren’t; individuals who  shield themselves from criticism of their comments with “it was just a joke” or the infamous “freedom of speech” to justify their bigotry and hate.

These fears are what brought me to connect with #futurebadgers through #YouAtUW. I, like most people, find comfort in shared experiences, worries, and passions. As senior year came to a close, I was constantly asked if I was excited for college. Of course, I’m looking forward to moving on to the next stage of my life. I’m excited to join organizations which peak my interests and meet new people who are as supportive of my ambitions as I am of theirs. Obviously, with such anticipation comes anxiety; I’m afraid to fail by my standards of failure, not succeed by my opinion of success, realize that my dreams are too far for me to ever reach. I’m sure these fears have crossed the minds of other incoming freshmen as well. Despite our differences as students–our variety of hometowns, religious affiliations, potential majors, and identities–I believe that this blog can bring us together by addressing the similar fears and hopes we each may face as we transition into college. Throughout our upcoming four years, I hope that we Badgers will be able to support each other through applause after victories, encouragement through struggles, and support, as we work towards each of our dreams. The road ahead will be rough, no doubt, but with the support of each other, I’m sure we’ll be just fine.

 

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