Jadan Villaruel has, according to his nominators, scores of fans around campus. His personality includes “phenomenal sassiness” and he “always makes a point to show…people his love.” He has a lot of thoughts on Wesleyan, astrology, and “our generation’s Madonna,” Charli XCX. The Argus caught up with him over lunch to hear it all, and to hear his response to what some of his fans had to say about him.
The Argus: I want to hear your response to what your nominators said, but first, how are you? How was your fall break?
Jadan Villaruel: Good. I saw Charli XCX. Stream Charli XCX. Make sure that’s in the article. She’s an icon. My white queen.
JV: But yeah, what [the nomination] said. I think I’m a reserved person. But like, I go somewhere and people are like, “Hey, hey. Whatever, whatever.” And I end up talking to them. Mostly I’m not really talking about like, personal shit. So it’s just in passing, you’re just like, “Hey, how’s it going?”, complain about the University, whatever, you know, usual Wes shit. But when I have friends-friends, I need time to sit down and actually spend time with them. Getting a meal is always fun. But that’s not always the extent to which I want a friendship to be. I guess that’s the Gemini in me, the Gemini rising, the Gemini moon.
A: Are you into astrology?
JV: Yeah, I am. Honestly I think like sophomore year [I got into it]. I was just bored and I’m just like, okay, like I’m a Taurus, but like that’s all I know. Like there are so many other aspects to the whole astrology shit. People are just like, I don’t believe that, blah blah blah. I’m like, well, maybe there’s something in your chart that’s making you not believe that, but you wouldn’t know because you’re not open to it. Maybe you’re not open because like, I don’t know, maybe whatever planet is in whatever constellation at that time affects your, your openness. But you wouldn’t know that, because you’re not exploring your chart, your whole person.
A: I think I’ve always been kind of skeptical of that stuff. I think a lot of white people are. Do you notice that?
JV: [laughing] I don’t need to get into it. I dunno. I feel like it’s a type of, there’s a spiritual aspect to it. Not that a lot of white people are like…. But this was the stereotype coming into high school that I had. That white people are atheist, they’re like, “I don’t believe in God, what has God ever done for me?” And like, I don’t know. What has God done for you? I don’t know. I can’t say, cause everyone has different experiences with religion. So I’m not going to like…“Ah, religion. God is real.” Like, I don’t care. But yeah, I just feel like, if I had to put a reason, give a reason to why there are certain types of white people that aren’t into it’s because they’re like closed off in that realm of their life. Spiritually.
A: Would you call yourself a spiritual person?
JV: Yeah. Yeah.
A: Religious, or just spiritual?
JV: Um, religious to a certain extent. Like, I grew up Catholic, communion, confirmation, all that shit. I don’t know, I guess I’m not like practicing, like I pray sometimes and like I believe in God, but it’s like, it’s not a big part of my life. Like it is with my grandmother, who has her little prayer book and she wakes up early in the morning and she’s just like praying and I can hear her from the bedroom. She has a little rosary, and she’s praying the…all the fucking…what do you call those shits? The Hail Marys a hundred times.
A: Has that changed in college at all?
JV: Yeah. I’m just more lax. ’Cause I’ve always been like, I went to elementary school, like, yeah, elementary school and middle school. It was a Christian school, so it’s private Christian school in Brooklyn. Really small. So like I knew everyone was just like, people I basically grew up with, so it’s like from pre-K to eighth grade I was with the same people. And like every morning we had a little morning devotions, sing songs to Jesus, dah dah dah. ’Cause the church was—the school was affiliated with the church. There’s a church down of up the block and the pastor of that church opened up the school in like the ’70s and it was just like, yeah, there needs to be a place in Brooklyn where people can come. Like it’s an intersection of education and religion…. I needed a break from that. Well, just like the whole regulation of it. The structure. I think the structure was just too much. Like structured religion to me is just a lot.
A: So obviously this is a very different environment than that one. How else is it different? Were there things you didn’t expect?
JV: Um…white people be so annoying? I’m joking. That’s always a constant in my life.
A: You can talk about that. I’d love to hear more about your thoughts.
JV: No, I’m not giving white people more time of my day. This is my interview, fuck that.
A: Fair enough.
JV: That’s one thing that…. I don’t know, I feel like in a lot of ways Wesleyan is kind of similar to Pomfret [boarding high school]. It was a predominantly white school, in the Northeast. [Wesleyan is] a predominantly white college in the Northeast, in New England. So a lot of times, those schools are set up to prepare kids, [air quotes] “prepare kids.” You know, you’re fucking dumb and you’re rich [in high school], you’re probably going to be dumb and rich in college. So like, you’re not learning anything cause you’re probably like skipping class or doing drugs or whatever. ’Cause that’s how it was at Pomfret. And I think at a lot of other boarding schools, from what I’ve heard, it’s like that too. Like you’re rich and you have money, you’re white, going to Harvard, whatever, wherever the fuck you’re going, and you’re like chilling and cruising. Anyways, so like, I didn’t expect it to be that much different, honestly.
It was just another system that I had to navigate. ’Cause I feel like I’ve been trained in a sense to navigate systems and work systems. So it’s like after I leave college, I have to learn how to work a different system, but I have to find that system is the thing. It’s not as clear cut in a sense. You know, in high school we’re preparing you for college and then college we’re supposed to be preparing you for the real world. High school is like college. Like you can go to college anywhere, but the point is you’re going, you know where you’re going, you’re going to college. If you go to college. But that’s the normal now, like now it’s “if you want money, you have to go to college or do some vocational school or some shit.” But that’s only for people who can work that, you know, the education system. So again, going back to the whole thing of working systems. What I’m trying to say is that after college it’s not as clear cut where you’re supposed to go. Like you, you have to put on your big boy pants and get out there. I mean for some people, of course, it is clear cut. Like, “Oh yeah, my dad has a business or whatever and so I’m going to college for this, and then after that I’ll start working at his business, and then I take over.”
A: Right. Not you, though.
JV: [laughing] Not me. That’s not for me. So now I have to find another system to work.
A: So you’ve been here almost three and a half years now, right? So what has been important to you as you’ve spent time here? What has navigating this system been like for you?
JV: Ugh [laughing]. It’s been fun at times, you know, just going around trying to finesse things. But…I don’t know. I’m tired. I’m tired. I don’t want to do it anymore. I’m like, ah, I have to go figure out another system. I need to take a break. I need to take a break. Like, high school then college and all. I’m excited to like, leave, honestly. But I know that I’m going back home after this. And I don’t know, it’s just really up in the air. I’ve thought about teaching [at Pomfret] while at the same time thinking about getting my master’s. And then I’d be at a different school, and I’d have to finesse that. Yeah. So again, I can go back into the whole boarding school, like independent school system and then work that again. Go live on campus, coach some whack-ass soccer team or something…. That I could always finesse, but like, I don’t know. I need a break before I start finessing any other systems.
A: Would that be something you enjoy? You’ve worked with kids a lot, right?
JV: [Someone throws a bottle on the ground behind us]. Ugh, people throwing bottles everywhere. Like, I don’t want to be stepping on fucking glass visiting my friend’s house. If I wanted to do that, I’d walk the streets of East New York. I’m sorry. I’m actually from the ghetto, so it’s like when I see this, I’m like, “Oh, Wesleyan’s kind of ghetto.”
A: What do you mean by that?
JV: Okay, well, when I say ghetto, I mean social strife. Difficulties. The ghetto is an inconvenience to people’s lives. You put people in a space, you don’t give them what they need. It’s like, what’s going on here? Why is X House all the way—why is it literally segregated? This is the space you have for Black students on this campus? And La Casa is all the way [on Washington St]. It was just like a fucking afterthought. They had nowhere else to put it. The fact that I can come to this campus and be like, “Wesleyan’s kind of ghetto” just shows that you’re not serving low-income students or students of color. Sorry, what were you asking before?
A: I was asking about teaching, but…
JV: Oh, yeah. That’s important to me. I like teaching. I feel like the way in which I speak is like…. I was noticing the other day, I was explaining something, I was telling a story. And then the person’s like, “why are you explaining what this means to me?” I was like, “I don’t know.” I was like, I’m not going to assume that everybody knows what I’m talking about, so I’m just gonna I have to like explain it so that you know, everyone can understand. They were like, that’s very teacher of you. I was like, thank you.
A: Do you feel like that’s part of your personality? Being teacherly?
JV: Yeah. I’m gonna come back for reunions and shit, and you’re gonna be like, “what are you doing with your life?” I’m gonna be like, “I’m a teacher.” And you’ll be like, “Yeah, yeah. I see that.” But yeah. Um, yeah, kids are cool.
A: Why do you like kids?
JV: ’Cause they’re hip. I want to be hip. I’m joking. I don’t know. I feel like I’m the type of person to—like, this is something I’ve noticed in my time at Wesleyan. I actually do like taking care of people. So like being an RA, I enjoy having residents and being that person that they could go to or whatever, guiding them. I think that’s like how I like projecting myself, or at least how I want to be perceived. Someone who cares. ’Cause most of the time, I honestly feel like people look at me and they’re like, “Oh, he doesn’t care about anything.”
A: Why do you think people think that?
JV: I don’t know. I feel like that’s what I got in high school. It’s only after people get to know me that they’re like, wait, like, “Hm, this person actually cares about me?”
A: I mean, I know we were laughing about it, but [your nomination] was a glowing portrait of you. Right? So why do you think people, the people who you’re close with have that impression of you?
JV: I don’t know. I’ve accepted the fact that you can’t control how people perceive you. This is however people perceive me, that’s it. And I perceive myself as however I perceive myself, and other people either match what I see, or it could be completely different. But it’s kind of relieving to know that I don’t come across as an asshole to my friends. At least not all the time. It’s nice to know that they value me. And that’s nice to know. To be valued, to be loved. That’s all a boy can ask for.
Spencer Arnold can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.