GENESE『O』: The Myriad of Navigating Geneseo’s Binaries [endING]

I take in a deep breath as I open up my mailbox and see the mail. Credit card information, old medical mails, magazines, and deep inside my mailbox is a big white envelope. On the side of the envelope in the sky-blue text is the name: GENESEO. I take in a deep breath, exhale, and grab all of the mail. I go over to the elevator nearby and press the button.

I look up, the electric sign reading: 15. I look over to my right and left, past the people in winter coats, I see the two staircases. I tap my shoe and fold my arms into my chest as I steady myself. Butterflies flutter the wings against the inner walls of my stomach. I rock slightly-back and forth and look down at the floor. I felt taller than usual, wider than before, and more aware than previous.

Just as I turned to take the stairs, the elevator doors slowly come apart and people walk out. I walk past them and stand in the back of the elevator. I continue to tap my feet as I purposefully avoid eye contact from other people.

The elevator reaches the eighth floor and I exit when it does. I walk quickly over to my apartment door, unlock the door, and run into the kitchen. I quickly open the package and in the big white envelope is a blue folder. I open up the folder and the first words I can vaguely recall are:

“Congratulations! You have been offered admissions to SUNY Geneseo as EOP student.”

And that is when my college career began…

In the context of SUNY Geneseo, there is a very strong value in student involvement and projecting the wide impact of SUNY Geneseo’s communities. That context and connection are particularly looked at in that binary framework. However, that binary thinking is what positioned and limited the conversation from the very beginning.

That is why this grand journey, as a SUNY Geneseo student, is meaningful to me. I can be part of a collective group and still be an individual. For example, I am part of Pride Alliance’s E-Board. That means working in the interest of and for general members to make sure that the general members feel safe, comfortable, and have an enjoyable experience. At the same time, I still feel like a person with Pride Alliance and I am valued and recognized as an individual.

The whole blog’s narrative was to explain how:

“A process in the lines [binary] that both divide and exist at Geneseo through the work of Steve Prince, writers, thinkers, disciplines, and personal anecdotes from Geneseo students themselves. It is by understanding these lines, can I get to the root of this loneliness and strangeness that haunts me at SUNY Geneseo.

Yet in the end, I am using some binary thinking that I argued against and secondly, those feelings of loneliness and strangeness still haunt me and do not have a clear answer. So, what was the point of that whole journey? Why did any of it matter and why does it matter that I feel like an individual and part of a greater group? The answer is: It was a step in the best direction for me.

What each step did in exploring this loneliness and strangeness was show how my own experiences in Geneseo either supported or countered my feeling of loneliness. However, I never knew of a concrete answer to these issues.

    1. Dennis Child’s visit reminded me of how lonely SUNY Geneseo can be and the importance of using parallel thinking.
    2. Tora-Con and being in the process of learning and listening more closely.
    3. The feeling of limbo and the loss of my friend’s loved ones.
    4. The coping mechanisms I use to both deal and challenge these feelings of loneliness.
    5. The three pillars of sustainability.
    6. The red threat of fate or the connections that keep me at Geneseo
    7. How we as SUNY Geneseo students align our ideas within the institution.

Each of these contributes to the dialogue. Some discussing where the loneliness and sadness come from and others dealing with how I deal with it and the connections I have created in response.

What ties all of this together is that Steve Prince’s artwork can talk about every experience here at SUNY Geneseo. Steve Prince’s ability to process topics and then to reflect on them into his artwork shows parallel think. His piece, Stacked (A/P) addresses the importance of education and thinking. Urban Garden’s right side has an explicit connection to people and ties into the concept of the red thread of fate. His pieces either directly or indirectly tie into the conversation I am creating.

I do not know because this journey was never straightforward. I was never expecting to fix all of the institutional issues within an institution that was founded in 1871. The institution never had people like me in mind and people like Ysaye Barnwell pushed to be included. What matters in this journey through Geneseo, especially when this institution makes me and so many others unsafe, is remembering and fighting to effectively grow change.

This school is lonely and there are so many issues I must face as someone who intersects with multiple identities. On the worst of days, I want to curl up into a corner and like Bartleby in a singular and mild voice say: “I would prefer not to.” I would prefer to not to fear while walking on campus. I would prefer not to wonder if my professor(s) have my support when I feel unsafe. I would prefer not to be on a campus that boasts its credibility and at the same time, cannot protect the students most affected by bigotry.

Nevertheless, I persist. I persist in this process because, in much of the same way Steve Prince persists in his artistry, I must continue forward. We continue because it creates space. Steve Prince, after visiting Geneseo went to William and Mary’s College. Steve Prince said,

“I see my role as expressing and exposing people to the power and the beauty and the importance of the arts in our life, period, in everything. But I’m also a champion of the fact that that experience is not just confined to here. That experience can just be in your own backyard, your own bedroom, your own house, at your kitchen table. But this space here is a space that is open for everybody to come and enjoy.”

That role is what I am striving for on this journey through Geneseo, especially knowing I can’t be the individual who resolves all injustice at Geneseo.

It is not easy being here but through this journey to navigate Geneseo’s binaries I realize that for my own preservation and for all the students to come I will continue to do what I do. Will I fail, yes. It is part of the course, especially when you have to manage blog posts [which one is overdue] and be involved in clubs and activities outside of your own academic time. However, I will not falter in being sure to both respect Geneseo and criticize the institution when I need to.

So in this  “Myriad of Navigating Geneseo’s Binaries” Du Bois has something sharp and quaint to say. When W.E.B. Du Bois graduated from Harvard with his Ph.D. in 1895 the social historian said:

“The honor, I assure you, was Harvard’s.”

In that same fashion, to Geneseo when you accepted me:

“The honor, I assure you, was Geneseo’s.”

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