A lack of minority representation on Shepherd campus

Zhane Johnson

As a student at Shepherd University I pose the question of: Is there a lack of minority representation on campus?

As a student, before a month ago I knew very little about the organizations on campus that cater to African Americans. I just recently learned about the BSU but, outside of this campus organization, what else is there for someone of my background and my culture to adhere to? To help me become successful in my collegiate career, is there somewhere that I could go or someone I could talk to who could understand the struggles or the concerns that I may have. Is there someone that may be able to relate to me?

These are the questions that run through the minds of minorities on campus every day. The most prevalent information I learned from these interviews is the fact that, minority students are not aware of the groups and resources for them and that they feel campus life is not necessarily for them.

When asking students of their knowledge on the groups on campus the conversations came to a full stop. After some thought, only one group came to mind for many, Black Student Union. The BSU is active in doing its best to have their group be known. At times, you are able to find the group posted up in the Rams Den.

“Of all the emails I get from Program Board, I have never gotten one from BSU,” said sports communications major and athlete Matthew Phillips. “I’ve never heard of the groups outside of BSU. Even if there are groups, I feel like it’s almost like just a group of friends in the group and its not necessarily a group broadcasted to the entire campus.”

More should be done to advertise for minority group. The involvement in these groups can be a vital thing for college students experience and to get more representation on campus. Student Athlete, Jamal Boadu says,

“I think it would be good for minorities, and the community too, because it would bring us closer,” said student athlete Jamal Boudu

As a minority on campus, Aleigha Collins, a business major, said it can be lonely. “You don’t have a lot of people to relate to, at least not as many as others,” she said. “I feel we just play as minority students. Sometimes as a minority student you feel like a number because there is a quota on how many minority students they should have.”

Tatah Ndeh, sports marketing major and student athlete, says he doesn’t think about it too much.

“It’s like anywhere, you face issues, but it’s not something you dwell on,” Ndeh said.  “We play a huge role in athletics, that’s mainly where minorities consist of.”

Shepherd University executive officer Thomas Segar, said that as a black man at Shepherd with a Ph.D., he still feels the isolation and loneliness that the students must feel on campus.

“But, I imagine our students feel it worse because some of our students aren’t used to being in the minority,” he said.

Boadu said being a minority on campus is “weird.”

“I feel they don’t have enough things for minorities, so we are kind of just left alone, just to do our own thing,” he said.

If family and friends could see the students participating, maybe they would consider attending Shepherd.  “I feel like if we had different clubs and organizations or programs we would be able to recruit different minorities,” Phillips said.

Another observation made by Phillips is the absence of black party life. “You are forced to do one thing and I know a lot of black students go home on the weekends because they feel Shepherd has nothing for them,” he said.

Boadu blamed it less on the university and more on the facts that this is such a small town.

“It’s not that. It’s just that this campus is so small, but everyone is just so apart. Like look at this, when you get in here everyone is in their own group,” he said.

It is on the students and the university to take the steps to having a more diverse college life for students. They should insure the students coming in know they are accepted in the community and that they have a place to belong. The students at Shepherd need to speak up and be more demanding when it comes to how they want to have their college experience.

While the university may have the desire to recruit more students of color, without the concerns being voiced, no immediate effort to make this change will happen. It is the university’s responsibility to let students know the resources available to them and that they should use them. It is also up to them to reach out to all students to figure out what would be best for them.

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