When I was admitted to Wellesley, I saw my acceptance letter as a golden ticket. My Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, so to speak, was a campus devoid of judgment, insecurity and most importantly—mansplaining. But after spending a little over a month here, I realized that Wellesley students prefer to use their “golden ticket” as an all-access pass to sweaty frat parties, self-important Harvard men and the dreaded humble-brag of, “Yeah, I basically go to MIT.” Wellesley has amazing connections that students should certainly take advantage of, but our student body needs to regain a sense of Wellesley pride. Our institution is enough without the prestige of other colleges, and to be proud of Wellesley is to further promote our values of empowerment and community.
One contributor to the lack of “Wellesley pride” is the social scene. Many students, myself included, leave campus during the weekends because Wellesley is hardly a hot spot for parties. But why would students bother hosting if the campus resembles a ghost-town after 5 p.m. every Friday? We’ve trapped ourselves in a self-perpetuating cycle of excess off-campus socializing leading to a lack of on-campus events. Although the infamous 2006 Harvard Crimson profile on Wellesley students is full of distasteful stereotypes, it does paint the picture of a more social campus. Students from other schools frequently partied at Wellesley because students publicized events at colleges around Boston. The lull in activity could be attributed to COVID-19, but it could also be a shift in the campus culture. Either way, change cannot happen until students make an effort to attend on-campus events or go the extra mile to host them.
Another issue lies with academics. Despite being a prospective humanities major, I found myself telling people back home that I was going to take classes at MIT to justify my commitment to Wellesley and elicit nods of approval. Cross-registration is advantageous to certain majors—such as computer science—that may feel limited by the size of our departments or class availability. However, there is a stark difference between saying that you take classes at MIT and saying that you go to MIT: one is a footnote in your journey of higher education, and the other is a bibliography composed of a single source that you accredit all of your accomplishments to. I don’t need to list reasons why Wellesley deserves a spot in your social resume. Just take a moment to re-acknowledge your dedicated professors, small introductory classes and accomplished peers. We often take it for granted.
Any discourse regarding Wellesley’s prestige circles back to one thing: its lack of cisgender male students. The numerous misconceptions resulting from our institution’s gender demographics are part of a larger, more complex issue, so I want to zoom in and touch on how it relates to college elitism instead. College elitism is a loaded topic that runs rampant in academic cities like Boston, and it stems from a history of achievement—a list of impressive alumni who held top spots in government or financial firms. By this logic, college elitism is rooted in patriarchal limitations because women have been denied jobs, promotions and recognition for centuries. Not to mention that many women in Wellesley’s early days did not use their degrees professionally, instead facing social pressure to marry shortly after graduation. Wellesley is undoubtedly an “elite” institution, but its name is not widely known because men do not lie in the orbit of its narrative, and the accomplishments of our alumni have been constantly devalued by misogyny in the professional sphere.
Rather than propping up Wellesley with names of other colleges to justify your choice in higher education, consider wearing the Wellesley name with pride. Promote a vibrant intra-campus culture through social events and school spirit, and stop to appreciate the unique opportunity for personal and intellectual growth that our school gives us. Maybe one day, your professional and social achievements will be one of many that give Wellesley College the recognition it deserves.