I struggle to go to Cornell. It is an ongoing battle, and while I have made leaps and bounds, sometimes I can only wish that I had transferred. Freshman year, I wasn’t strong enough to ask for help and just wanted to push myself through the pain, through the memories and just get on with my life. I wish that after everything that happened – after the charges were pressed after my first year – I had moved away.
Instead, I deal with the pain of walking to campus and passing by the three houses where I saw the monster in Collegetown the first time my friends convinced me to go out freshman year: he saw me and just stared. I walk by Uris Library and instead of seeing the cool Harry Potter-like features, I see where it all began. When I am at the slope, I see him walking beside me – asking and persisting to have sex. I hear myself say no; that I have a 10-page paper to write. West Campus is my nightmare; Keeton House makes my heart beat faster. North Campus dining halls bring back the few times that he came in. Though I luckily saw him there only a couple of times, they left their mark. This is my pain. This is what I deal with when I come back. Each break, I struggle because Cornell isn’t my home – it’s a constant reminder of what happened. The memories will never fade; they just get a little distant with time.
I have only a couple of faculty members who I willingly talk to and trust. How can I put my faith in Cornell when the faculty fought for him to stay and pushed against the sexual assault charges? I understand that it was their job and that everyone deserves a fair trial (innocent before proven guilty and all that), but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t hurt that someone was defending him without seeing the pain he put me through. I don’t usually talk to professors outside of class because they terrify me. They remind me of the pain. They remind me that the university I worked hard to get into defended him. I don’t feel safe talking to any of them about assignments, anything I need clarifications on or possible extensions because I had a trigger and couldn’t focus on work. This impacts my grades. Is it irrational and unfair to put this on all faculty members? Yes. I know that, but it’s difficult for me to trust. It’s difficult to put that pain behind me.
So how do I handle going to Cornell? I remind myself of the friends I made here that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Yes, something traumatic happened to me, and while I don’t consider Cornell my home away from home, my friends are that home for me. They help me and they make me want to be a better person. These friends are the ones you know will last beyond these four years. Sometimes I wish that I had transferred from Cornell, but I remind myself that I wouldn’t have the friends that I do now. Sometimes your nightmares can give rise to something beautiful.