An Open Letter: Dear SLC

By Laura Lee

Dear SLC Community,

I want to take a moment to offer my thanks to the Sarah Lawrence Community. As it did for many of us, my life changed four years ago with the election of Donald Trump. I, like millions of people, felt a fog descend that seemed like it would never lift. People that I once thought were friends had become strangers, almost overnight. In the days, weeks, months and years that followed, I became aware of their hatred, their fear, and their lack of compassion for others.

After the 2016 election, I felt lost. At the time, my education was merely a part-time hobby. I had gone to community college on and off for a couple of years, taking classes that were of interest to me, but without any clear path forward. I spent most of my time at a job that I had come to hate, watching the hours tick by all in service of a paycheck. My co-workers, some of whom I once considered close friends, seemed to change before my very eyes. Vitriol and hate speech became the norm, and my understanding of how deep the divide between us became clearer with each passing day.

I left my job, a place I had spent nearly every day at since I was barely 20 years old. I went back to school, got my degree, and then found myself at Sarah Lawrence. From the moment I stepped on campus on a rainy night last November, I felt like I belonged. I felt that these were the people I needed in my life, that this was the place I was meant to be. I was, I will admit, a bit skeptical about online instruction, fearing that the feeling of belonging I had felt would disappear once filtered through a screen. I am happy to say that I was wrong. The efforts of both professors and students have made virtual learning feel more intimate, not less. Each week, we are invited into each other’s homes, coming together even some of us are thousands of miles away.

This last week was a difficult one. Watching the news with unblinking eyes, the knowledge of just how much was at stake an ever-present thought in my mind. But knowing that there were millions of people who had fought for our democracy, who had fought to bring us together again, gave me hope, as has getting to know the wonderful people in my cohort. I know we all jumped for joy (or danced, or honked our horns, or popped champagne, or just wept with relief) Saturday night when Joseph R. Biden and Kamala Harris took the stage. My cohort and I texted GIFS and meme’s back and forth, celebrating a historical moment of victory, one in which we watched the first woman, the first Black woman, the first woman of Asian descent, take her rightful place in the White House . I am sure I speak for all my fellow women’s historians, when I say that seeing Kamala Harris on the stage that night felt like something inside finally broke free. But I know that even if the night had been more somber, and if the worst had come to pass, that I would have had people to share my grief with. I would have had a community that was feeling pain as one.

And so I want to say thank you. Thank you to those that I know and to those that I don’t. Thank you for helping to give me hope in humanity again, for reminding me that there are people who care, and their voices are loud and strong. Thank you for helping me feel less alone, for standing up for our democracy and our integrity. I am proud to be part of the Sarah Lawrence community and know that together we will keep fighting for the future.

Laura Lee (she/her) is a first year Women’s History MA candidate.  Her thesis work will be an exploration of the representation of child-free women throughout history and popular culture.  She loves pugs, travel, theater, sub-zero temperatures and any activity that involves jumping off a cliff.

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