On Fighting Complacency

By: Shreya Sunderram 

Rhetorical Choices is a course that all speaking fellows have to take, to develop their theoretical understanding of the concepts we discuss. But more than that, its a place of like minded students, as enthused as you to study and take on challenges. However, its pretty fair to say that the week of the election was the first time I came to class and felt a sense of universal hopelessness. I wrote this piece shortly after in hopes of reminding myself and others the importance of our voices and how hope is most necessary in the darkest of times. A few months post election, I resurface this, with the hope that it resurfaces the unpleasant emotions of that week. It is easy to grow complacent and forget the dangers that we function under, especially when we grow used it. I hope reading this piece will break us out of comfort, and remind us of our role as Barnard students as vigilant fighters for those who cannot fight.

Reflection on the Election, and how the Speaking Program should address it.

This week has been one of the worst in my entire life, and I am infinitely grateful for the support and love of the speaking program. Just as the Pantsuit Nation facebook group has continued to give me hope and is like an online haven for me, the green couches of the 2nd floor have become a pseudo-sanctuary, where I am constantly reminded that I am valued, loved, and heard. What this election has taught me, is that, yes there is a lot of hatred and anger in this country, but there remains a lot of love and unification. In the reflection wall in the Speaking Center, all the words are of love and support, and action. There is a desperate desire to act. This week I applied to 10 internships solely on the basis that they had something to do with supporting minority groups. This week I wrote a letter to Hillary Clinton and sent it from the speaking Center, thanking her for her service and apologizing for the patriarchal forces that worked against her. I promised her that I would run for office one day, and I don’t know if that was a false promise or not but now Id feel pretty bad if I were to break it so we’ll see where that goes. Ultimately I think this rambling is leading to a thank you. A thank you to the speaking fellows program for giving me the support I need right now, for supporting me with strong women, and women with voices who are going to change the world in some way without a doubt. And I’d like to thank the speaking fellow for giving me the space to listen, for teaching and how to listen and for encouraging the listening process, and for recognizing that the only way we can undo this hatred is through listening. In teaching speaking, we teach the value of every voice—even those we disagree with. I will spend this year and the rest of my life learning how to deal with voices of dissent, and how to acknowledge the humanity in all of us. I still have faith in the world, I still have faith in the United States, and I have faith that if there is a fight for change, Barnard students will be at the forefront. I hope that we can make this right two years from now, and I vow to start working right now.