ACU has been a home for the past two years, going on three.
I first chose ACU because of its Christian atmosphere and small population. I value close relationships and community that can be beneficial for my growth mentally and spiritually.
As a minority at a predominantly white institution, I have a different experience than most of my peers. I have always found it odd or dissatisfying that there are a disproportionate amount of people of color in every club, intramural sports, class or even Chapels you go to. ACU allowed the first African American to enroll in 1962. However, the impacts of years of segregation is still evident to this day.
As you walk into Chapel, it isn’t uncommon to see the stands filled with white students. I have walked into classes where I am the only black female, or even the only minority in the room.
Researchers have proven the importance of having a diverse school environment where people feel comfortable to be who they are, unapologetically. According to the American Council on Education, “Education within a diverse setting prepares students to become good citizens in an increasingly complex, pluralistic society; it fosters mutual respect and teamwork; and it helps build communities whose members are judged by the quality of their character and their contributions.” (acenet 2018)
I had the incredible opportunity to be an RCL in Gardner Hall my sophomore year. I had the opportunity to culturally educate my hall about the various cultures on campus. I encouraged them to branch out, learn and celebrate diversity.
A friend and I put together a all hall event for Gardner Hall on what it is like to be a black woman. We held it this past February in honor of Black History Month. We took this opportunity to speak up and build a platform for open and honest conversation from everyone. We shared our experiences, as well as educated attendees on the hardships we experienced growing up as black individuals. We also talked about what black history stands for and why it’s important, including what you should and should not say as a white individual.
I firmly believe that this event created conversation and education, and may have been the first of its kind for many of the students present. Ignorance and discrimination is lack of education or experience with people who are different than you. My friend and I were able to use our role as leaders as a platform for awareness and understanding.
Additionally, I became a part of the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) shortly after beginning my freshman year. It is not only important for minority students to find a place to fit in, but also a place to be represented, advocated for and heard. Being a part of an organization that speaks up about issues minority students face has taught me plenty about stepping out of my comfort zone and speaking out.
If you spend four or more years in college and only interact with people that look like you and have the same culture as you, you’re doing something wrong. College should be about celebrating diversity. Personally, meeting so many people that have completely different backgrounds than me has contributed to my own growth.
It is vital that we stand together to make sure all voices are heard, especially the minority voices. Our goal should be to make ACU more diverse and inclusive over time, for all people. While my experience as a black female is different than anyone else’s, I hope that reading this has shared some of my perspective. Being involved has helped me to find my niche, and I encourage others to do the same.