I came from a California high school whose diverse social circles turned high school stereotypes upside down. Instead of jocks and cheerleaders, drama kids and academic kids were admired. Instead of being a place attended by only Marin County’s well-off kids, my high school was a place where kids from a predominantly low-income, African-American town met Mill Valley Marinites and beach kids met suburban ones. It was a place from which poser hippies and wealthy, wanna-be gangsters emerged, as did Ivy League scholars and artists. It was a place where everyone got along.
My freshman and sophomore NU experience could not have been more different. That’s not to say that people don’t get along at NU; they do. And it’s not to say people aren’t open to others; there are. However, attending NU made me realize the comfort I took in the diverse cultures, interests and people in high school.
I realized this when people, poking fun at me, labeled me as a hippie and mocked me when I tried to explain that I was a product of my home town, and the farthest thing from both the “real hippies” and “wanna-be hippies” that I had known.
I realized this when I felt pressure to rush a sorority “if I wanted to have a social life.”
I realized this when telling my friends at home that Northwestern must have an “East Coast vibe” because I didn’t understand it.
I realized this while watching my younger brother’s high school basketball game and thinking, “There are a lot of black people here.” After realizing this was the first time a thought like this had crossed my mind, I realized “Man, Northwestern must be pretty white.”
I realized this when I heard minority students express how little NU felt like a home when I covered a racial caucus for The Daily Northwestern.
I realized this when, as a member of the school’s ski team executive board, I felt the hurt of affected students and the sincerest regrets of students involved in an event dubbed “The Racist Olympics.”
I realized this as an NU student, swept into a movement for change.
Going into my third year, I want to share these realizations. I want to commend the administration for admitting the most racially diverse Class of 2016—racially diverse students make up 44 percent of the class—and I want to remind admin that this is only one step in the right direction. I want to let incoming students know that I’m excited to welcome them. Most of all, I want everyone to realize that each time NU takes a step toward diversity, I take a step toward considering NU my community and a step toward becoming a proud NU student.
Anonymous said: Do u think NU wuld b more diverse if the 1st contact a new student has is w/ a sum1 that completely different from them? I'm asking this bc wen volunteering 4 WildcatDays the prospies were separated into Latino - Black -& All Other and matched with a Latn-Blk-AO host. The minority students themselves when they figure this out feel very strange/apart, when they ask why they are separated i didnt know what to answer.
I think that could potentially help. The “separation” that happens on Wildcat Days is voluntary though, we have to remember that. The university doesn’t force prospies to stay with students of the same ethnicity.
Wildcat Days is also just a glorified group visit. Not all the students that participate have enrolled at NU. I don’t really see how the university could be made more diverse by simply mixing it up with someone “completely different” with them. We need to make sure that the prospie who visits during Wildcat Days enrolls at Northwestern, then we can move from there. For minority students here, contact with people completely different than themselves is impossible to avoid. It’s a given, despite students’ best efforts at so-called self-segregation.
As an aside, I’d argue that one’s “first contact” with Northwestern comes long before Wildcat Days. Whether it be stories they hear, media coverage, or recruitment material the university sends out to high schools, the first interaction most students have with Northwestern is the highly controlled, elitist, liberal brand image that NU 4 Diversity Now is trying to change for the better.
We have been discussing and planning a public Faculty/Student Speak-Out, that will be Monday, May 14th, at Norris East Lawn at 6:30. This will in part be a venue that will start by a ‘presentation’ of the Diversity Report by its important authors, other faculty speaking on diversity in academia, and hopefully student testimonies. This is our serious chance to take a firm public stance on the state of diversity and power to the community and administration.