1.) We may as well get it out of the way now….The Food
It’s amazing to me how there can be so many different places on campus to get food and yet I still find myself going hungry most of the time. The only things I find that I can eat consistently are the salmon, the sushi, and the boxes of frozen Buffalo wings that are sold at Dutch. Occasionally, I’ll have the shrimp or fried rice from the Asian cuisine place. As you can imagine, it gets tiring to eat the same foods all the time. Especially considering I’ve been here for four years. Why am I so limited in what I eat, you ask? If I’m being honest, my experience has been a torturous lack of flavor/taste in the foods offered at this school.
Being Nigerian on top of all that, things are even harder because Africans are so horribly underrepresented in terms of the food on campus. I’m definitely not (I repeat, NOT) asking for them to attempt to make jollof rice or anything like that, but surely they should at least be able to offer plantains every week (if not every day) instead of once every blue moon. I can’t help but feel like if I’d gone to an HBCU, there’d at least be more plugs (connections) to food that I would actually enjoy if not from the school itself then from the students.
2.) My Teachers Hardly Ever Look Like Me. And Neither Do My Classmates For That Matter.
One of the biggest gags/jokes/scams about this school is how much administration LOVES to push the narrative that the school is soooo diverse and yet…WHERE?? As was mentioned before, I’ve been attending this school for four years now. I can count how many black professors I’ve had in that time. Four…I am a senior and I’ve only seen four professors that looked like me. Four. On top of that, out of those four professors, only one of them is within my department (English). There is only ONE black professor in the entire English department. The only reason I even had the other three black professors was because I took all the African Studies courses that I could (The African Novel, African Dance, and The Revolution Will Not be Televised). The fact of the matter is, I shouldn’t have to take courses specifically geared towards the African/Black experience in order to feel represented among the faculty. I know we’re no longer considered children but representation still matters.
On the other side of that, is my peers. At the beginning of every semester, I walk into a class for the first time wondering if I will yet again be the only black student there. The answer is usually: yes. I’ve asked myself if it’s because of the classes I take (mainly literature, creative writing, and philosophy) but I’ve found that even in my general education classes, there’s usually less than 5 of us. My friends in other majors have also reported having the experience of being the only black student in most of their classes.
3.) Campus Culture in General
I want to start this off by saying that the black clubs here (ASA, NAACP, BSU, CSA, and CWC) really put on some great events. As president of the ASA, I can personally attest to how difficult it is to not only put on an event but to actually get a strong turnout as well, no matter how much advertising that is done. I know HBCUs are not perfect and not every black student who attends one will go to every black event held but I’ve seen the crowds they have at their ASA/BSU/NAACP/etc. events. It’s embarrassing to invite speakers here and only have 10-15 people in the audience. I’ve gone to other schools and witnessed how involved their black students are and can’t help but wish I could relate.
Aside from the clubs aspect, there’s also Greek life. The fact of the matter is, there’s hardly a D9 (Divine Nine) presence here. Out of the five fraternities that are considered D9 (Kappas, Alphas, Iotas, Ques, and Sigmas), we currently only have one still active on campus (Alphas). The sororities are a little better in that, out of the four D9 sororities (AKAs, Deltas, Zetas, and Sigma Gamma Rho), there are two (AKAs and SGRho) currently active on campus. At least as far as I know. Even within the chapters that are here, their numbers are small compared to the number of people in other chapters (which of course is not their fault).
It’s all just frustrating because I’ve seen the potential that all these (very important and necessary) orgs can have at other schools, especially HBCUs, and we just don’t have those numbers here.