I am not from Madison, WI. I come from the buzzing city of Los Angeles, Calif. I just finished my first official full week of college and I’m truly exhausted. I’m exhausted of all the work but ultimately exhausted of questions, looks and awkward vibes I receive on a daily basis.
I know that UW-Madison is really trying to become more diverse and I see the strides it’s making as an institution but that doesn’t mean everyone is making those same strides.
The one question that always gets me is, “What are you doing here?” With a backpack full of books hanging on my back I have a puzzled look on my face expressing a complete loss of words. My question is what do you think I’m here for?
I am here to get a quality education and hopefully graduate with a degree in four years. I always feel inclined to ask them right back, “what are YOU doing here?” Yes, I know I don’t look like most of the other people roaming this city or this campus, but I deserve to be here just as much as anyone else does.
The Way Up Multicultural Org Fair and the Black Cultural Center Orientation have been the two major events where I have felt most at home. They have been the events in which I see the most people who look like me. We are instantly connected and engage in conversation about our experiences while on campus so far.
The people of color community here at UW-Madison is very close-knit. We form our own family and bond together. One thing I know for sure is that I will not let the lack of color on campus bring me down in the slightest bit or deteriorate my confidence.
I know that I am on this campus for a reason and I will not allow myself to be belittled in any way. It wouldn’t make sense if I was just sitting
ting back expecting others to come to me and become friends. I will continue to put myself out there and meet and talk to people from all walks of life. It’s all about overcoming the fear of being uncomfortable.
Malala Yousafzai, who is a brilliant soul, has said, “One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world.” This quote definitely fits our society and I feel it is very applicable to our campus.
It only takes one student, one teacher, one pen, and one book to truly make a difference. It’s not going to be easy to change a routine that has been in place for so long but it’s worth a shot.
By not even attempting to “get the ball rolling,” you in turn become a part of the problem. Your silence says that what’s happening is okay and there’s no need for change. Systems are meant to be challenged. Just because something is the norm does not mean that it is right.
I asked one Caucasian freshman about her thoughts on diversity on campus. Her response was, “The school is much whiter than it is advertised to be.” It is a little surprising that even a student who is well represented sees that there is a problem with the current system.
I then turned around and asked the same question to a student of color and his response was, “The school has a lot of work to do to better support its students of color.”
Two perspectives coming from two students who have different levels of privilege have similar opinions on the university’s current diversity situation. If there is a common feeling then why is there still a problem?
Chelsea is a freshman intending to major in journalism and Spanish. What are your thoughts on diversity on campus? Send any and all questions, comments and concerns to email@example.com.