Every Tuesday between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., a campus tour group usually enters Keefe Campus Center. The tour typically stops right in front of the door to the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC). The MRC door is glass, so the room is generally visible to the outside. However, in those moments, the door transforms into something more — that glass door becomes a window. This transformation changes both the intention of the room and the relationship between those prospective parents and students and the Amherst students in the MRC.

This is the second of a two-part series that attempts to answer the question, “What does it mean to be exhausted at Amherst College?” The first part of the series attributed the more insidious aspects of exhaustion to the campus’ excessive disciplinary culture. This second part asks, “Can exhaustion be redeemed?”

A little black girl with pigtails holds her mother’s hands. She sways back and forth, pleading for God’s anointing. Her words, familiar to children of black evangelicals everywhere, invoke the Spirit of the Lord.

To be an Amherst College student without a group is to walk around with no skin. It is to feel continuously vulnerable and overexposed to the elements. This overexposure is all consuming and exhausting. Participating in class, hellos to acquaintances — the most mundane tasks can seem daunting here. The stakes of being, the continuous scrutiny of our teachers and peers, can sometimes feel so incredibly high. “Did I say this thing right in class," “I feel so awkward here,” “I just want a safe space" — very little anonymity or security exists for some on this campus.

For many at Amherst College, without an institution like a sports team, prominent club, fraternity or group with great social capital, it is not uncommon to feel naked and constantly exposed to the elements. More often than not for people of color on this campus, this exposure feels especially acute. Subtle erasures of our bodies, slight yet sharp jabs from the ignorant, interrogations of whether or not we are deserving, a continuous feeling of homelessness — “Are you sure this space is really mine?” we ask. “They tell me that it is, but I feel so uncomfortable.”