Mount Up or Mount Down?
The Center for Student Diversity was created to be the powerhouse for minority involvement at the Mount. CSD is the head of several clubs and organizations especially created for students of color. On a predominantly white campus located in a predominantly white and isolated area, it is easy for students who look like me to feel marginalized in a place they are supposed to call home. Outside of being an athlete, walking into classrooms and other school spaces can feel so alienating, especially when the campus culture does not reflect the diversity it seems to be advocating for.
Unfortunately, I am no longer surprised when I enter a core class and I am the only black woman present. Although this can be viewed from a distinct perspective, “why is it so important for me to use my voice in such a space?” That does not mean that it cannot feel discouraging. Therefore, it is so necessary for universities to strategically plan adequate funding and time to invest in diversity programs and safe spaces for the voices of the marginalized—safe spaces where we speak and express ourselves to our classmates. Students of color are not Crayola markers to be used to make an institution’s dynamic appear more attractive. That is a false advertisement! Providing all students with a sense of belonging cannot be your motto when failing to meet the student needs as a growing minority population is the mojo.
In just the past two years, Mount has accepted two of its largest classes of minority students in history. But why widen the acceptance rate if you lack the tools to accommodate? “They are using it as a number… but what we need to look at is retention and whether minority students ate really getting what they need?” questioned Marcos Gonzalez (C’22), Treasurer of the Student Organization of Latinos.
CSD is the sole home for the concerns and cultures of black and brown creatives to be expressed. However, when these clubs and organizations are vocal about financial needs, Mount’s funding seems to be in a chokehold. “It’s very restrictive—say if an event was canceled, we can’t even use the funds towards something else,” added Madelin Sagastume (C’22), President of the Student Organization of Latinos.
The University has expressed in its 5-year plan its adamancy regarding the incorporation of other cultures and meeting student needs, but its paper-thin urgency is not reflected. “The Mount is only really starting to look at how to accommodate. If they want to keep these minorities coming, we need to remember and recognize the minorities graduating will one day be alumni as well and impact who else might be interested in attending the Mount in the future.” said Gonzalez.
I constructively criticize the Mount because I see an opportunity of immense positive change. Another new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director and a handful of black and Hispanic faculty members cannot carry all the weight of an entire institution, doing what it takes a community to accomplish. An active and consistent effort towards tangible solutions must be made by the school. One diversity center and a few new short-term hires alone will not result in the all-inclusive dream the Mount has vocalized. All of us cannot “Mount Up” when our only resources are down.