The Stand With Us movement has taken this campus by storm. Looking back on the past three weeks, I am truly amazed by my peers. I would have never imagined that what started out as a personal attack against me would produce such a communal response. It is important for us, as a community, to hold each other accountable for our actions, whether they be cheating on a test, harassing a student or even casually using derogatory terms against a particular group of people. So often, we do not realize the effects that our actions have on others. But we have become more aware of it as a community, and we hopefully won’t have to wait for harmful incidents to take place in the future in order to produce lasting change.
It started over Winter Study. I have a white board on my door that I purchased. The first half of the board is for whatever messages my friends might have for me and the bottom half is designated for the “Word of the day,” as I like to call it. It refers to the Bible scripture quote that I change daily on my board, something I have been doing since the beginning of fall semester. One night during Winter Study, there was a party in the common room next to my room. Security came to break up the party. Soon afterwards, I heard students outside my door saying that I was the one who had called Security. They then proceeded to erase my white board. I opened my door and rewrote my scripture, but it was erased again. After this happened another two times, I was upset and wrote a note on my board saying that whoever was erasing my board “should just have just asked if I called Security, before deciding to disrespect my property and make themselves look like a butt hole.” About a half hour later, I heard a group of people outside my door talking about me. I went out to confront them and they again accused me of calling Security. I explained to them that I hadn’t, but the alcohol probably affected their better judgment as they continued to accuse me. The conversion escalated. I refused to argue with eight drunken people at two or three in the morning so I slammed the door. In response, a girl yelled, “That’s not what Jesus would do.” They then erased my board yet again and wrote the word “lies.”
The next day I wrote the girl an apology letter for slamming the door in her face and to clear up any confusion about me calling her and her friends butt holes. From that night on, they would have about three parties a week. Each night, my board would be erased or defaced several times. Many times, the writings would mock my “Word of the Day” or my religion. I would often hear people outside my door. The harassment continued to escalate until the Friday night that the word “nigger” was written on three doors in my entry. There was again a party next door to my room that night. When I woke up Saturday morning and opened my door I saw that on my board was written, “I love cocks.” Drawn next to it was a picture of male genitals – the same picture drawn in my entry stairwell as well. In addition to that, the word “fag” was written over my scripture, and my marker was stolen. (The cap and marker were later found on the ground next to the pictures in the staircase.)
I am glad to know that I am not the only one affected by these events. Before these incidents occurred, I was one of those people who knew that the “N-word” was offensive but never quite understood its power. However, I now understand that it’s the action that goes behind its use that is the most hurtful. It’s the thought of someone using this word because they know all that it is associated with and they want to use its negative connotation to break you. And while sticks and stones can break your bones, words can break your heart. If you don’t listen to the right ones, you can develop a totally inaccurate perception of yourself and others.
For over a month, a group of people was persecuting me. They never did anything physical, but they tried to reach me where it would hurt the most. They did not succeed. Instead, they have helped to open the eyes of this community. For weeks I couldn’t say much about the situation for my safety and for the sake of the investigation. And when I couldn’t speak or stand up for myself, Williams unknowingly did it for me. To the people that harassed me, I forgive you whether you are sorry or not. And to all those who started the Stand With Us movement, I want to say, no, thank you for standing with me.
Jacquelin Magby ’11 is from Riverdale, Ill., and lives in Williams Hall.