What’s Wrong With Being From Ohio?

Source: iandrinstitute.org

About a month ago, I was at the Cove with some friends when a girl I didn’t know asked me where I was from. When I told her, “Dayton, Ohio,” her seeming friendliness suddenly changed. She said, “Oh,” with a disgusted look on her face and immediately walked away. For a moment, I was in a state of shock. What had I done that had so disgusted her? When I realized it was my hometown that she found revolting, I couldn’t help but laugh- it was all I could do. The idea that someone was unworthy of being spoken to because of where they were from was so absurd to me that I couldn’t even properly make sense of it.

In the days that followed, I couldn’t get the brief interaction out of my mind. Should I be angry at having such an important part of my upbringing insulted? Tickled at the pure absurdity of it? For a time, I constantly flip-flopped between these two emotions. Ultimately, more than anything, I was disappointed. Disappointed someone at Kenyon would be narrow-minded enough to completely dismiss another person purely because of where they come from.

I like to think Kenyon is an open-minded, welcoming place, but I know that isn’t always true. In the grand scheme of things, a girl walking away from me because I come from the “wrong town” isn’t that big of a deal. At the same time, it speaks to a problem some students seem to have with the state they go to school in. They view Ohio as a sort of wasteland full of culturally backwards people who are somehow less than them, a desert of ignorance with Kenyon being an oasis of enlightenment. I don’t mean to insinuate most people at Kenyon feel this way; the vast majority does not. But there is enough of this sentiment that it’s noticeable. It’s a poisonous worldview that cheapens what it means to be a student at a school like Kenyon, because part of what’s so special about out school is the people from all walks of life you get to meet and the different perspectives they bring that challenge and reshape your own. By dismissing an entire group of students because of one small thing about them, something they have no control over, you are cheating yourself out of a special opportunity not many people get to have. So I’m not angry with that girl, or with anyone who feels the way she does. I’m just disappointed.

19 responses

  1. Yeah… this is especially confusing because everyone here is an Ohio resident. No one tricked you into coming here.

  2. Responding negatively to where anyone is from is generally dumb – it’s not like we chose where were were born and raised..

  3. Thank god for this article! Literally how I felt being from the Midwest at Kenyon. As a result, it made me hyper-defensive of my hometown

  4. Different parts of the country have different kinds of cultures. I have found that people from places like NYC and Boston or parts of California tend to be wealthier and more cultured as a side effect of living so close to cultured areas and being from New England or the west coast, but that isn’t always the case – just like it isn’t the case that all Ohioans are uncultured people who can’t afford to live on the coast. Sometimes people decide they don’t want to take the time to get to know if someone is the exception to the generalization, and I think that’s dumb, but it’s also up to them what they do with their time. The again, you probably don’t want to talk to someone who doesn’t like where you come from, anyway.

  5. Kenyon is IN OHIO. Why go to a school in the Midwest if you hate the Midwest? Why choose a school in Ohio if you feel scorn for Ohio?
    Many students, many professors, and most of the staff are from Ohio. Making up the experience that YOU CHOSE.

    • liberal arts colleges is an east coast thing and kenyon is a popular choice for east coast people–its also so beautiful and remote that people pretend that its an exception to the rest of the ohio but its in ohio. im from nyc and i fucking love ohio! who carez

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