Out-of-state students deal with real discrimination

We are the repressed minority. But we are not oppressed because of our skin color, religion or sexual preference. No, we have come from the far reaches of New Jersey and Massachusetts to attend school in a little town that no one back home has ever heard of. We are the out-of-state students.

We are used to hearing our friends from home ask if we go cow tipping for fun or go to school in the tundra. We are used to justifying our decision to friends and family of leaving the comforts of living in a suburb outside of Boston or a heavily populated county in Jersey to go to New York. And not just any New York—people would understand if we were going to the city—but the frigid snow belt of upstate New York. People back home can be harsh.

When we tell them where we attend college, the response is usually, "Oh, that’s great! I’ve always loved the city!"

"No," we say. "Central New York, not the city."

Their faces drop in confusion, and they instantly lose interest in the conversation.

What’s worse than that? The abuse we get from those who are natives of New York. New Jersey and Massachusetts are the two states that are made fun of the most by New Yorkers. You don’t hear too many jokes about people who are from New Hampshire or Delaware.

Those of us from Jersey and Massachusetts often get made fun of for our so-called "bad driving." Our response: upstate New Yorkers are the ones who need to learn how to drive. Hesitating at green lights for more than two seconds is unacceptable. Yellow lights mean you can squeeze about five more cars through, two for red lights. Yield signs have no real value except as decorative pretty triangles. Stop signs are only a suggestion. Only weirdos use their turn signals.

We’ve battled the Parkway and the Mass Pike. We’ve been honked at, flipped off, yelled at and cut off. None of that bothers us as much as people stopping at green lights or going 10 miles an hour on a road with a speed limit of 35. But when we drive like we do back home on the streets of Oswego, other drivers think we are insane. Friends refuse to get in the car with us, or if they do, they grip the edge of their seats the entire time and breathe a sigh of relief when we reach our destination. They are surprised to have survived.

Only seven percent of Oswego State freshmen are from out-of-state and that includes international students. The number has been below 11 percent for years.

We think this less than double-digit minority would also agree with us that it is also time for New Yorkers to quit making fun of our accents. Yes, we come from different places. Yes, we have different ways of speaking, but that should not make us a zoo exhibit. We are allowed to say "cawfee" instead of coffee, or "cah" instead of "car." The letter "r" is not always necessary, and some words just sound better with an extra "aw" in them.

So, Oswego, let us drive our "cahs" out to get a "cawfee" at "Tim Hohtons." Let us "tawlk" how we want to "tawlk" and drive the right way, instead of "yoah" way. We "ah" the repressed "minawrity." Let us be.

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