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Opinion: Discrimination and hate at 62

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I’m a bit of an oddity at Clemson. I’m 62, a British-speaking American and a freshman. I’ve been bullied all my life. I’ve become so used to it, I forget what it must be like for my fellow students, maybe experiencing it for the first time.

This is the ugly flip side to university life.  For sure, there is the freedom of being away from home, able to do what you like without fearing a teacher putting you in detention.Yet the less attractive corollary is that, when teachers and parents step to one side, and you no longer have a home to escape to, the peer pressure, bullying, hate, discrimination and teasing is all with you 24/7. There is nowhere to hide.

I’ve never understood what drives bullies or what pleasure they get from what they do, but they’ve always scared me. I don’t mind admitting it. I’m five foot nothing, weigh zilch and have less muscle tone than a shovel, but I’ve learned enough to know that, however difficult it might be, you just have to find help.

The Tiger lists a website that can help. Write to them. Talk to a friend, or even write to me. I don’t care, but do not make yourself alone. You are not alone.

Meanwhile, nine times out of ten, pretty much everyone who is reading this article knows someone who is a bully. Do something about it! If they are a friend, talk to them, and if they are not then report them. We all live on this campus together, so grow up, grow a pair and be a human being.

Teachers shouldn’t get off lightly either. I’ve been in a class where bullying took place, and the teacher did nothing. Forget your course evaluations because you’re a part of the same Clemson family. Throw the perpetrator out of your class until they behave.

Mind you, sometimes the faculty do more than turn a blind eye. I have suffered my own discrimination at the hands of a Clemson campus program where the Deputy Director, a member of faculty, told me, and I quote: “We are a program for 18-22 year olds. You do not fit the image we are trying to project.”

At the same time, I genuinely believe that, on occasion, some students engage in peer pressure without even knowing it. They may openly tease others about their grades, where they sit in class or who they hang out with– all without realizing that they may be causing hurt.

Okay, you may not know what you’re doing. In that case, let’s spell it out. Sometimes, when you and your mates are laughing,  joking loudly at the beginning of a class and telling everyone how easy an exam was the students next to you are trying to read. Maybe they found the test really difficult, and your preening is intimidating.

Maybe what you regard as teasing causes real harm to someone more withdrawn. Maybe leaning into someone’s space, reading their paper or grabbing their pen to borrow is taken as an invasion of their space. Maybe this exchange is actually something that makes them quite uncomfortable.

Yes, I want to see CUSG do more. Yes, I want to feel that Clemson admin actually cares, but to be honest, it all starts with us. Discrimination, hate, bullying and peer pressure can be found in the strangest of places – within us. Luckily,  the remedy can be found in exactly the same place. By taking a moment, and thinking about how we behave, we can decrease the number of uncomfortable situations.

As for those of you who enjoy bullying, guess what? There’s more of us than there are of you.

 

If you are experiencing unwanted thoughts or bullying, don’t hesitate to contact the National Hopeline Network:

National Hopeline Network

800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

800-442-HOPE (4673)

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week

http://www.hopeline.com

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