“Why is he here??!!!”
“He is a student.”
“What do you mean he’s a student??!”
“Dear, your mother may be my cousin, but you still have to show me some respect when we’re on-campus; especially when we’re in my office and there is a waiting room full of your colleagues just on the other side of that door.”
“Sorry, Aunty Jackie. But seeing that guy here… I don’t understand. I came here because it was an all-black school. I thought I would be safe here. You know my situation. How could you allow him to enrol?”
Jackie sighed and took off her glasses. With her hands folded on the desk in front of her, she looked at the angry girl sitting in front of her. She dealt with angry students all the time; students who thought they deserved better grades, students who wanted more parking spots or thought the cafeteria shouldn’t serve meat. This was one of the few times where she really sympathised with the student sitting opposite her desk. It wasn’t just because the clearly terrified young woman in front of her was her cousin but because she knew that she had good reason to feel the way she did. But Jackie’s hands were tied and deep down she felt that this was an opportunity to help Alanna finally heal. It was going to be a long and painful process but she felt sure it would be worth it. Jackie took a breath and prepared to earn Alanna’s hatred for the remainder of the school year.
“Alanna, student applications are reviewed by a committee. I do not make the decision to approve or reject an application on my own. However, even if it were solely my responsibility, I would still have approved that young man’s application. I cannot reject students for personal reasons and favour the needs of my family members over everyone else. I know how you must feel and I apologise. But he deserves his place here and there is nothing we can do about it now.”
Alanna sat quietly for a second. As Jackie continued to look at her, she could see Alanna’s emotions play across her face. She was devastated at what was just said. Abruptly, her face hardened. She was clearly angry but she could see that nothing more could be achieved in this office. The Dean watched as her cousin rose, in one swift, fluid motion, muttered her thanks and left quickly. Jackie took a moment to collect herself before telling her secretary, Helena, to send the next student in.