UA is a better place with the Mallet AssemblyBy Marina Roberts | 04/21/2014 11:00pm
When I came here as a freshman, I was invited to an event at Mallet my first weekend of college. Having no connections to speak of, I was eager to investigate the mysterious Mallet Assembly, and I decided to go. That spontaneous decision has changed the course of my life and has impacted my identity in a way that I have much difficulty putting into words in a brief article for The CW.
What followed that first encounter has been four years of friendships with people who, as the University’s only black SGA president and Malleteer Cleo Thomas once remarked, are just as intelligent as me but with the complete opposite opinions. Those opinions are borne out of the remarkably diverse backgrounds and life experiences of the members of Mallet – people who grew up in the historic district of downtown Mobile, in a poor neighborhood in Montgomery or in an expat community in Egypt. People who grew up in a multiracial family, have experienced what it’s like to be hungry and homeless or who have been isolated from their families for being transgender.
I’ve met people who hope to win an Oscar, who hope to colonize Mars during our lifetime, who hope to dismantle the systems of oppression that hold so many of us down. I’ve made friends (more than one) who told me that, had they not stumbled into the Assembly when they did, they would have committed suicide. I’ve met people who called me out on my assumptions and ignorance and broadened my limited perspective.
During the last four years, I have had countless nights staying up until 3 a.m. arguing about whether or not the end of “Breaking Bad” was good, discussing extremely nostalgic video game soundtracks or talking about the shortcomings of Occupy Wall Street with people who were actually there. I have gotten into impassioned four-hour debates about gender politics. I have laughed until I cried at the shenanigans we have gotten into. I have gotten into way too many fights, and I have been forgiven probably more times than I deserve.
But Mallet has a way of recognizing the flaws in everyone and looking past that to see the good. For many of us, this is the first place where we have had the agency to explore our identities and to be whatever we authentically are without apology. We can be certain that no matter what we are, Mallet is a family that accepts and empowers and, I daresay, it is even a family that loves.
We will love your weirdly fanatical obsession with “Jackie Chan Adventures.” We will love your insistence that World Wrestling Entertainment is the last great performance art. We will love your terrible dancing, your unlabeled gender identity or your anger at the general lack of justice in the world. And I promise, we will laugh at you, very hard, especially when you do something goofy.
Of everything I’ve achieved in college, being a Malleteer is hands down what I take the most pride in. I carry as memories some of the happiest moments of my life here and the strongest relationships I have started as conversations with a stranger in our drawing room. So if you’re curious about us, take it from me – you don’t want to graduate and have “not joining Mallet” at the top of your list of regrets. Mallet is a home away from home that none of us expected to find here, but all of us are unbelievably lucky that we did.
Marina Roberts was the second female president of the Mallet Assembly.