Discrimination against N.J. hinders community development

Day in and day out, I witness my home state of New Jersey criticized and denounced in the form of senseless, malicious jokes. My fellow Geneseo students, most hailing from New York, perpetrate these jokes. What these students fail to realize is that the issue of acceptance within the campus community involves places of origin, too.

We should all be working toward making our campus more welcoming to different kinds of people and this sort of behavior is not facilitating that one bit. The pervasive culture of abuse toward New Jersey is not only hurting the individual students affected by it, it’s also hurting our campus culture. We should allow those of various backgrounds and origins, be it from out of state or even out of country, to be proud of who they are and where they came from, without the judging comments of those who consider themselves superior. We cannot allow this frighteningly widely accepted cultural idea to continue to injure our community.

I know how much coming from out of state makes me a minority at this school. It may indeed be shocking for many New York natives at Geneseo to find out that there are out of staters here. Yet, that does not entitle those of the majority to abuse those of the minority. (Don’t misunderstand me; I am not comparing the plight of New Jersey residents here to any kind of other minority issues. Still, there are similarities that cannot be ignored).

It is even more upsetting that these comments are stated in reference to a place in which, more than likely, the commenter has not invested a whole lot of time. How can someone have such a strongly formed negative opinion about a place they’ve only heard about?

At this point, some may ask, “Is this really an issue though? Aren’t those that say those types of things only joking?” Well, that misses the point. It matters not if the comment was actually intended as offensive or not, the damage is done to the victim either way. Especially if heard on a daily basis, the recipient may start to internalize the claims and believe the lies themselves.

I am well aware that the hit MTV show “Jersey Shore,” which everyone loves to hate, is set in New Jersey. This argument against New Jersey, however, falls flat when you see that only three of the eight current cast members on the show are actually from the state in which it’s filmed. Where are the other five members from? Good question! Bad answer, however: New York. So, if you’re going to cite “Jersey Shore” as a reason to hate a whole state, you might want to check all the facts first.

It seems no other state has such a prejudiced, demented view of another fellow state in the union. It needs to stop right here. Your preconceived notions do you a disservice, New York. We need to welcome those from out of state, even those from New Jersey, because these students enrich our campus with backgrounds and cultures different from ours. In the end, it will give us a chance to learn how to accept each other and grow personally. And isn’t that what college is for?

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