I did it. I made it through first the day of school. I made it through the traffic, finding a parking spot, trekking across campus and waiting in a 45 minute line to get my new parking decal, making it back across campus to class on time, and then trekking across campus once more to leave. There was a certain Tolkien-esk quality to the day with all the across campus nonsense, it felt like some epic journey and I felt like a hobbit at the gates of Mordor thanks to the blistering Florida heat!
I did it though and now day one is behind me. Roughly 240 days to go!
My crusade to find parking and cross-campus expedition isn’t really the story from the day though. The story is something I noticed in class. I met up with my BFFAS (best friend forever at school) before class and we were talking about how we both looked online at the roster for our class today and noticed that it was all female. That has not happened once since I started undergrad. There are not many men in the program but there are enough that there has always been at least one or two in every class I have taken. I personally was kind of excited to have a class with all women. I was curious to see how the energy would be. My feminist self had this grand vision of sisterhood and easy relatability right off the bat. Shocker #1, I was being SUPER idealistic. Shocker #2, day one was not sisterhood-y or fem-bonding at all.
The energy was actually kind of tense and uncomfortable. I noticed it right when my friend and I walked in. We were the 4th and 5th people to walk into the classroom. We found seats in the middle of the room towards one side that we were comfortable with and plopped down to enjoy the A/C. As all the other women filed in there was a very clear division between the BSW, now advanced standing MSW clinical students and the Generalist MSW, now MSW clinical students. It felt like a them and us situation. The room was literally divided. All of the previous MSW generalists were on one side and all of the former BSW students who recently graduated were on the other. The whole atmosphere felt off to me.
I noticed it in my two classes over the summer as well but it did not feel as evident as it does in this class so far. I worked with multiple new people who were formerly MSW generalists over the summer and am thankful I had the opportunity because it was great growth for me and new perspectives.
I hate that it feels like a line in drawn in the classroom, the separation feels heavy and deliberate to me. On my drive home I was thinking about what I know about how groups form and how once groups are formed how these groups perceive outsiders. I don’t believe that either side of the room has malicious intentions towards the other side, I just think people are comfortable with what feels (and who feels) familiar and right now we are all choosing to stay in our comfort zones. It is my intention to push myself out of my comfort zone and explore/grow as much as possible in my last two semesters so I am hoping I will have plenty of opportunity in this class to get to know new people, it seems like I will. I hope everyone is as open to learning from one another.
We will see how the semester plays out.