I find myself wondering if NKU is really as focused on diversity as it claims.
Every year, this university sees an increase in the enrollment of African-Americans – males specifically. But by the time a new school year rolls around, we have lost an alarming number of those African-American males.
There can be many explanations for this. First of all, what services are in place to cater to the needs of this minority? Yes, we appreciate the African American Student Affairs and Ethnic Services, but the retention of these students isn’t solely up to that office. What, because it’s the office of African American Student Affairs that makes it the unofficial office of African American Student Interaction and Retention? I think not.
A wise person once told me that people are inclined to follow those who lead by example. Where are the examples for our black males at this institution? Where are the African-American male administrators? There were two job openings here at NKU as recently as this past summer. One was the Assistant Director of Student Life, which was abandoned by Tiffany Bellafant, a black woman, and the other was the Director of African American Student Affairs formerly held by Michelle Peterson, another black woman.
I have an idea: let’s try something different. How about putting someone in those positions that can really make some positive changes? There hasn’t been a black male in either of those positions as far as I know, and I can certainly account for the past ten years.
Many students share my opinion that those jobs should have been filled by qualified black males. The Office of Student Life encompasses student life as it applies to all students, but at NKU only a select number of black students even utilize the services provided by that office. The university spent big money to renovate and create the student involvement center. This area is complete with a lounge area, computers, and a large area to complete arts and crafts projects. Most black students don’t even know that this area is open to them to just hang out. If they want to become an all-inclusive then steps must be taken to include all students.
I don’t mean this criticism to be taken the wrong way; it is ultimately up to university administration to choose these faculty members. Sure, they humor us and make us think that we are being included in the decision-making process, but they disregard our input and hire whomever they feel is best for the job. All I want to know is who are they thinking of when they make these decisions? And, whom are they consulting with to find out what the needs of our black community are at NKU?
Right now, we are concerned about the retention of our black males here at NKU. There are enough black students at this university for us to have a voice and our needs considered. It is already difficult enough trying to get an education at a predominately white institution. We are always the minority in our classes and at our jobs, but it helps to have a place that you can go and share your thoughts and troubles.
Where are the resources that they can use to succeed? For black students, this is the African American Student Affairs office. But for our black males, they are still being shortchanged. They have a better chance finding a needle in a haystack than finding a mentor in their majors who looks anything like them. They have to fend for themselves at this institution, and nothing is being done about it. Here’s a newsflash: until something is done to reach out to these black males and help them, we will continue to see a high turnover rate and NKU will have failed in its attempt to diversify.
In the meantime, black social groups, sororities, fraternities, it’s time to take our destiny into our own hands and come together as a community. Network with one another, share information about classes and professors. Those who are good writers, reach out to your peers and offer your services to those who struggle in those areas.
We have to be our own support group and do what we can to help our brothers out because the odds are stacked against them in this society, and specifically at this institution.
Crystal Smith is a senior speech communications major at NKU and the Business Manager of The Northerner. You can contact Crystal at firstname.lastname@example.org.