Alum Organizes Rogue Freshman Welcome To Housing Project
When Fred’s University turned down his offer to host a freshman get-together in the unfancy neighborhood where he grew up, alum Darius Richardson decided to host his own event.
While the Admissions Office used an email campaign and mailed paper invitations to the official Fred’s welcome event for students in the exclusive Enchanted Forest Glen neighborhood, Darius Richardson organized his unofficial event on TikTok.
The event was a resounding success, with double the attendance of the catered cocktail party in the “nice neighborhood.” Instead of raising money for Fred’s U as is customary at the welcome party, students submitted Kickstarter requests for their own projects or tuition needs and brought in a lot of support for students.
At the party Richardson gave a brief talk on the history of his neighborhood, which was carved out of the remaining real estate from an interstate project and a fertilizer factory. He showed photos of the Jewish neighborhood that had been torn down to make way for the highway and explained how the housing project where he grew up had been robbed of the funds designed to maintain it.
Richardson also detailed how Fred’s University had benefited from the rerouting of the main road through town which protected the Enchanted Forest Glen neighborhood from traffic and resulted in a massive escalation of property values in the protected white neighborhood. While Fred’s University administrators tend to live in Enchanted Forest, Fred’s custodial and dining hall workers usually live in the housing project.
Asked if he would host another Fred U event, Darius Richardson surprised a student reporter by saying no.
“I wanted to create something welcoming for students like me. It also seems worthwhile to me that rich white kids learn something about the world as part of their education.”
“But would I do it again? No. The work of making a welcoming school is…the work of the school. There are people who are paid to do this. I’m just showing them how the job could be done right. Minorities shouldn’t be the unpaid labor solving the race and class problems of Predominantly White Institutions (PWI)”
In a surprise turnaround, the usual host of freshman welcome parties in Enchanted Forest Glen, Mrs. Arthur Moxley-Bingham, also said she would no longer host welcome events at her gracious colonial home.
“I wasn’t doing what I thought I was doing. I was showing off my house, my nice life, and making myself important. The fact is I didn’t even go to Fred’s University — my late husband and my son were the alums.” The realization came after a conversation with Richardson, who described how awkward and out of place he felt attending her swanky welcome cocktail party as a new student.
“Was I making students feel welcome?” Mrs. Arthur Moxley-Bingham mused. “Only those students who are already welcome. And it was at the expense of the students who were the audience to our performance of privilege. The discomfort of the students who are not part of my world, whether because of race or money or class, actually adds to the power and prestige of privileged students. Darius opened my eyes.”
After the student reporter turned off her recorder, Mrs. Arthur Moxley-Bingham added, “Also I didn’t get a very nice thank you from the Admissions Coordinator, and Admissions left behind a huge pile of FU t-shirts and water bottles in my garage blocking the entrance to my housekeeper’s apartment.”
“That’s a loss,” Darius Richardson commented when told that Mrs. Arthur Moxley-Bingham was ending her reign as Fred’s U top hostess.
“One of the benefits of coming to a private college like Fred’s U is gaining access to the social connections and cultural capital held in PWI. Since BIPOC have historically been locked out of those networks, it is important to find a way to give us access.”
“In many parts of our American culture, we’ve seen white people remove themselves from the public sphere if it means sharing with black people. That’s why we have poor public healthcare. That’s why labor protections historically excluded black-dominated professions and as a result, also punished poor white or female workers in the same fields.”
“We need to find a way to share.”
Richardson does not know where Jenny from the Admissions Office procured the chummy photos of black and white students sharing potluck in his mother’s apartment but noted that they have turned up on Fred U’s website and have already been printed up on a poster and brochure.
“It turns out to be really hard not to turn diversity into a spectator event. We had Fred U parents taking pictures of my mom’s building and the overflowing dumpsters behind it. I accidentally created poverty tourism which was disrespectful to my neighbors. We don’t want rich white people “slumming” in our backyard.”
The Admissions Office has formed a special committee to look into TikTok marketing and have hired a consultant to come up with a strategy to stem the flow of potential fundraising dollars away from the university via individual Kickstarter campaigns. “We have to put the best interest of the university above the students,” Jenny accidentally said.