By Rebeka Ogren
You’re 18 years old. You just moved on to High Point University’s campus, and after the hard goodbye that is leaving your parents, you trek off into the start of the college journey. One thought lingers in the back of your mind: “This is not what I thought it would be.”
Thoughts like this ring true for many students, and when speaking about diversity, it is at the forefront of our minds. Walking around campus, HPU is very obviously a predominantly white school. In fact, according to the Office of Institutional Research, our campus is 75% white. I think I speak for a lot of people on this campus when I say, “The statistic is really that low?”
Looking under HPU’s “Student Life” tab on their website, the only link with a picture of more than one minority group is under “Multicultural Affairs.” Disappointing, to say the least. Gail Tuttle, senior vice president for Student Life, also identified 27 SGA-recognized diversity focused organizations on campus, a seemingly large number for a smaller scale school. However, how many students can safely say that they have heard in depth about the “Freedom in Thought Club?” Or, how about the “Hillel” club? Maybe even the “National Association of Black Journalists?” Point being, you neither hear about, nor see, enough of these amazing groups of people from the university itself.
With 16% of staff being from any form of minority group, and only 43% of students with religious orientations other than Christianity, it can be hard to believe that over the past 10 years, HPU has increased its minority enrollment by 68%. But, if what the Office of Admissions is claiming is true, then why is it so hard to believe? I think this can stem from a number of issues, with the first being the lack of representation of diversity in the school’s media. The second are situations on campus that represent the lack of knowledge about diversity and inclusivity in the majority of students.
Recently, there was a racial slur plastered on the R.G. Wanek Center’s Extraordinaire Cinema’s movie screen. Investigations have been said to be underway at this time, but this does not stop any one on campus from having a lot of questions on the matter. HPU juniors Jasmine McDougald and Ednaya Hackney were scared about the vandalism.
“We’re in class with some of these people,” McDougald said. “You never know how someone feels about you; they’re hidden behind what they say.”
With both girls being part of minority groups on campus, Ednaya said, “[We] can really feel alone.”
As students on this campus, do they not have a right to feel safe and a part of the HPU community? No one should ever have to fear for who they are; no student should ever feel unsafe in their own home.
“Personally, I feel that what took place in the Wanek Cinema was harmful and hateful,” said Assistant Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Doug Hall. “The uncalled-for behavior itself is reflected upon the individual and not the campus. It just so happened that the event took place on our campus.”
We as members of the High Point community, all have a responsibility to keep ourselves and other people on this campus safe. So, this leaves me with one question: If HPU contained more diversity, marketed to a wider range of individuals and did not show itself as a “white” school, would this hate crime have even happened?
Shortly after the death of George Floyd, Dr. Nido R. Qubein released a statement that said, “HPU students, we are here for you.”
While I do believe that this university tries to remain as politically correct as possible, it is impossible to deny the fact that there is not enough representation on our campus. This is a hard time for everyone, but what we cannot do is remain stagnant in conversation. Students and faculty cannot remain silent when it comes to advocating for more presence of minority groups, whether it is in media, clubs and organizations or even classrooms.
Every voice deserves to be heard; every person deserves to feel like this is their home — safe, inclusive, loving and full of growth. HPU is known for coining the phrase “Welcome Home,” but how welcoming are we making this home?
Those seeking aid during this time can contact Counseling Services at 336-888-6352 or Multicultural Affairs at 336-841-9695.