Daring To Be Different: How Black and White Students Feel About Being a Minority on Campus

A young Black man steps foot onto one of America’s mostprestigious universities;  he smiles to himself, still inshock that he is actually a student enrolled at such a prominentinstitution.  He stares in awe at the gaudy educationalatmosphere.  As he walks around the campus, he slowly beginsgrasping the fact that most of the faces he sees are

white.  Every man, every woman, everystudent, every professor that he passes has been white.  He isindeed in shock not knowing what situations lie ahead of him.


Since May 17, 1954 when Brown v. Board ofEducation outlawed the segregation of public schools, Blacks andwhites have been mixing on college campuses all acrossAmerica. 


Ashley Watkins-Butler, an engineer major whoattends the pre-dominantly white Wesleyan College in Macon Georgiacommits in saying, “It is hard to fit in at first. Academically I feel at times that I’m proving myself and socially Ifeel that I just don’t mesh well with my white counter-parts. We sort of separate ourselves.” 


On the other hand, Ms. Watkins-Butler pointsout, “I feel that pre-dominantly white institutions are betterfunded so they therefore provide better opportunities for itsstudents, which is why I decided to come here in the firstplace.”


Raymond Gayle, a transfer student at HowardUniversity from the University of Pittsburgh, disagrees, especiallyconsidering the different opportunities available for Blackstudents at pre-dominantly white institutions.


“Even if you were a minority at Pittsburgh,there weren’t any opportunities there but at a Black schooleverything is geared towards Black achievement, and I like that,”says Gayle.   


Several states in the U.S. try to denyHistorically Black Colleges and Universities its proper funding andgranted revenues, which have caused organizations like the Officeof Civil Rights at the U. S. Department of Education to take stepsto make sure necessary improvements are being implemented withinthese Black institutions.  


After transferring from a pre-dominantly whiteinstitution to an HBCU, Cordis Stanfield claims he did not have aproblem during his tenure at the University of Tennessee.


“It wasn’t that I didn’t like being on apre-dominantly white campus, I simply transferred because the costof a Black institution is much cheaper for me,” respondsStanfield.  “At Tennessee,” he continues, “there were a smallnumber of Blacks so events were more centralized, for example, likehow we had a Black cultural center.” 


On the reverse side of things, Tim Corning,who is a white student at an HBCU believes that being differentfrom everyone else on campus has negative effects.  “We don’thave centralized events,” vents Corning.  Corning continues insaying, “I feel that people don’t want me here sometimes by howthey look at me and the things that they say.”  


The National Center for Educational Statistics(NCES) says that the most students choose their college based onacademics.


“I really came to Howard because of its Schoolof Business,” says Corning.  “The teachers teach students tobe racist, I think, at some Black institutions,” Corningcontinues.  “If we stop looking at colors, they’d be no racismand it starts with us.”