by Laura Kochman

There's been a lot of negative conversation surrounding the University of Alabama lately, and I've been so glad to see these issues aired in the national press. When I first told relatives that I wanted to go to Alabama—relatives who all grew up and still live in the northeast—I got a pretty negative reaction. I can't tell you how many times I've had somebody respond to me in an exaggerated Southern accent. I can't adequately express how frustrated I've been with people who dismiss the South and all who live there. From some conversations that I've witnessed recently, I get the impression that a general reaction is to stay far away from a place where things like this can happen—you know, as though power and race politics have already been straightened out everywhere else. This afternoon, I got the chance to sit in on a Faculty Senate meeting, and after hearing faculty from departments across the University speak with care, passion, frustration, and eloquence about issues of segregation and voter fraud, and the deep-seated culture of apathy that they want to change, and their desire to create a safe and inclusive space for all students, and their insistence not only for continued action but also swift action, and their pride in the fact that it's Greek and non-Greek students alike who are making noise, I'm really glad to be in this place in this moment. I hope this is a real moment of change, and I aspire to be as fierce as the people in that room.