Last week, my rhetoric professor asked our class to define the typical Baylor student. Most students responded with answers that included words like “rich,” “white” and “Baptist.”
While I believe most could agree to these definitions of the typical Baylor student, I kept thinking that I, a regular freshman girl, didn’t even fit that stereotype made out of three simple words.
The class started to disagree on these terms while I stayed surprisingly content in not answering the question.
Instead, I pondered why these words were used to define us. I mean, my classmates didn’t even fit the description, and this was a group of about 15 Baylor Interdisciplinary Core freshmen.
Around me, there were rich students I knew because most of us are friends, students whose parents had great jobs and could easily supply the full tuition of their child for the next four years.
But then I also knew the other students who held jobs throughout their high school years, whose parent or parents had multiple jobs, and who received more than just a few scholarships.
There were many racial differences between us as well.
Hispanic, African-American, Caucasian and Asian friends were all around me in that tiny classroom.
And Baptist? In that class, I have friends who are Lutheran, Catholic, Non-denominational, Presbyterian … The list goes on and on.
I myself do not fit in the rich category by any means, as my single mother works multiple jobs in support of my higher education. I am white in the sense that I am from European descent, but my Irish heritage can be seen in my fiery temper and bold attitude.
Lastly, I am not Baptist, but a Lutheran from a Methodist church home who is attending a Baptist church currently.
I can understand the Baylor stereotype due to traditional Baylor students fitting these descriptions. If you fit the description, then good, because that means you have been part of making the name for Baylor. However, I believe Baylor students should be defined as something more than what others see on the outside.
I am not advocating for the stereotype to be demolished. But I would like to call for students to rethink the stereotype. If all Baylor students are known for is being rich, white and Baptist, then should that not strike a desire in students to redefine what people see us for on the outside?
I do not want others to look at me as rich. Instead, I want them to see the richness of my spirit in Christ, the wealth of love in my actions, the abundance of hope, support and happiness I can provide.
I do not want others to look at me and see a white girl. I want to reflect the racial differences found in all students. We are a variety of hues found in Baylor’s green and gold.
I do not want others to look at me and assume I’m Christian, specifically Baptist. I want to reflect a respect for all religions, an acceptance of differences, a love for Christ and a purpose to spread his message.
These qualities are found in most students, but are not pursued.
It’s time the Baylor student definition be redefined. The only way this can happen is if we all associate qualities of Baylor pride with our actions.
Here, we can be defined by the ‘content of our character,’ just like in Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, instead of the skin we boldly wear today.
So, Baylor students, what will you be defined by?
Originally posted and published in The Baylor Lariat