Monday, February 15, 2010

Black @ SIUE

(students viewing "black @ siue" responses)

I was talking to some of the first-year young brothers and sisters toward the end of January and asked them what it meant to be black at SIUE. I was intrigued by their responses and the ensuing conversations, so I decided to get even more input. Over the last few weeks, I ended up communicating with nearly 100 black students about what it means to be black at SIUE.

I received a wide range of responses. And we even organized two small presentations where we showcased some of the responses we received. Most importantly, listening to and reading over so many of the students comments from the students gave me clearer insight on the challenges and barriers that they face and the notable diversity of thought between black people and black people at SIUE.

In the coming months, we'll try to present excerpts and interpretations of what students observed, and we'll try to have a few more public presentations on campus regarding our "black @ siue" project.

In the meantime, samples of some of the responses:
Being black at SIUE brings about a bit of pride, but also great disappointment. As a business major it is depressing to walk into class after class and find no one that looks like you. At a glance it seems that black students at SIUE aren't serious. -second-year black woman
A male in college is a minority in itself, put that with being a black male and you find yourself in a corner. I sometimes find myself being excluded in some group activities or class discussions but I don't let it rattle me. I just see it as another obstacle that needs to be hurdled. -fifth-year black male
The thing that stands out the most is that we are a minority here on this campus and for this reason most events, and activities are NOT targeted toward our people. Black students are not particularly interested in the events and activities the school puts on because they are things that we think are lame or boring. I believe this is because they are things that we've never been exposed to or don't have access to in our neighborhoods back home. So the thing that concerns me is that low black enrollment and retention means that there are less Black organizations, and the ones that are active have low membership; the thing that concerns me is the low promotion of events aimed toward African-Americans on this campus. -third-year black woman
Being a black woman at SIUE means being expected to be the spokesperson for all black people inside the classroom and then expected to disappear outside of it. -second-year black woman graduate student

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