Thursday, January 27, 2005

From the archive

Badger Herald, Feb. 2, 2000, p6

UW problem: Midwest v. East Coast
By R. [I expunged the author's name. -KRB]
Guest editorial

I walked into my English class last week only to find myself greatly disturbed by a fellow classmate's assertion directed towards my content of character. Undeniably, I may have appeared somewhat groggy. I had a long, never-ending weekend. Before class, I grabbed a cup of coffee in order to ease my tired body and mind. Because I could not understand what this peer of mine was saying and asked him to repeat himself, I was ridiculed for being "one of those." I desired some sort of explanation as to what exactly "one of those" meant. His reply: "A snob ... well, what's wrong, did Daddy cut off your funds for the week?" Need I remind you I told him I was from New York the previous Friday. In response, my classmate said he could tell by the way I dressed.

He attributed his opinion of me due to my black jacket, my bag and what he referred to as tight jeans. Ironically enough, this guy wears more labels than I do. Not a day goes by when he doesn't wear an Abercrombie label or his Ralph Lauren hat. In any case, I played his game. My only defense was to call him a hick, even though I don't hold such an opinion of him in reality. I found it being my only defense, and the only way to show him that just as I had no right to judge him, he had no right to judge me.

Currently a junior at UW, I have learned to accept that this campus is blatantly divided between the Midwest and East Coast. It is by no means something this establishment should be proud of. However, because stereotypes continuously linger between the two opposing forces, change in the near future is looking increasingly grim. My hope is that other people apart from myself would like this stereotyping to change.

As a Long Island native, I will not deny being exposed to a high degree of materialistic nonsense from my hometown suburb. I dealt with all the idiosyncratic baloney then, and kept my mouth sealed. Upon arrival here, I lived in the Towers. It was recommended to me by my fellow constitutes that this dorm was the ideal living situation for my freshman year. As in high school, I was surrounded by the same nonsense. However, I made my friends. I adapted just fine and by no means regret my decision, and here is why: I find that nine times out of 10, I am required to actually prove myself as being a true individual before rightfully accepted by Midwestern peers. Had I lived in the public dorms, I undoubtedly would have experienced even more nonsense. This is the typical scenario: I walk into a bar, library or apartment. I am introduced, or rather I introduce myself to a Midwestern native. Undoubtedly, I will receive second looks for my attire and physical features such as my dark brown hair and eyes. Subsequently, I am asked as to where I am from. As always, I will reply "New York" with a prepared explanation that, "I really am nice, and I am not that bad." It is almost as if I am trying to win over the person's approval. The best is when I receive the line, "Wow, you have totally changed my view of New York!"

I would be lying if I denied the fact that such a response did not elicit some sort of positive emotion from within my heart and soul. However, this effect has greatly waned since my freshman year. I am no longer seeking to gain approval from the Midwestern crowd. If you give me a chance, you will see that I am not out to judge you. One of my best friends on this campus is from Milwaukee, and I would not trade my friendship for anything. We undoubtedly have our differences. She lived in a public dorm freshman year, and I lived in a private dorm. She has light features, whereas I have dark. I always go to bars in my black pants, whereas she is content in a pair of blue jeans. However, we follow the same realm of thought.

Stereotypes on this campus exist for a reason. Some East and West coasters express bitterness toward Wisconsin natives. For these people, I profoundly apologize. I can greatly comprehend why some Midwesterners may refuse visitation to my home state. However, the point here is that not every single person from these areas fits the qualifications as being "one of those." There may be a reason that such stereotypes against "coasters" exist, but I have even met people from Wisconsin--yes, Wisconsin--who are just as bad, or worse.

With all of this in mind, it is rather unfair to consistently judge and label your peers based on their state of origin. I know that everyone on this campus cannot get along, but would it kill you to try?

R. is a junior majoring in communication arts. She may hail from New York, but she really is nice.

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