BY DANIELLE BROWN '18
Mount Holyoke’s rankings don’t bother me in the slightest. This is because I’m vehemently opposed to public relations being prioritized over actual experiences. I’m not saying that I am entirely disappointed with my experience here because the people I have met, including my closest friends, powerful and impressive professors, and some of the most dedicated staff on this campus make it worthwhile. Add those things to the resources available to us and I’m actually pretty content here.
However, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to allow Mount Holyoke to stagnate and not improve itself. Everything we tout can be challenged. I don’t go to this school because the dorms are classic and look really cool in Facebook cover photos. I go here to pursue a degree in higher education in order to lift my family out of its situation, and I know I’ll be taken seriously when I’ve done that at a private college. That being said: I also want to feel safe and respected here.
According to The Princeton Review, we have one of the best “LGBTQ-friendly” experiences — which feels like an utter joke when I can guarantee you that the majority of queer students of color and a large number of transgender students do not feel welcome here. Queer people of color are often afterthoughts in queer group decisions. Trans students are officially accepted but quite often ignored, or sent to live in singles before there are any roommate issues at all.
We also, according to U.S. World and News Report, rank third when it comes to our percentage of international students. This is amazing, I won’t lie. However, when my friends from outside of the U.S. share their many experiences of microaggressions from domestic students and professors I can’t help but feel that that high ranking means nothing. Or that it means that domestic students are becoming “worldly” without actually having to leave the comfort of their own privileges.
It actually wasn’t until this year that food began being served during lengthy breaks, a time during which many international (and some domestic) students either can’t afford to go home or don’t want to deal with the hassle of doing so. It’s almost like Mount Holyoke’s original demographic is still here learning from their new, foreign counterparts while those counterparts get not too much in return.
So, no, I’m not impressed by impeccably posed photos taken in front of the gates or by the very many quotes being used out of context to measure my experience here. I do love Mount Holyoke, but I know it could be better. And I refuse to allow the College to ignore this need to improve for the sake of rankings. Pay less attention to how Forbes rates us and more to the needs of your constituents, and the rest will follow.