I’m baaaaaaaaack for one last time! As I close out the semester and my Diary of an Angry Black Woman trilogy, I want to thank everyone who has read my blog post and supported our blogs this semester. Often, students do not have the opportunity to express themselves on a platform such as this. Thank you for providing a safe platform to challenge patriarchy.
Okay, now back to my trilogy. So I am sure you are wondering, “what is she angry about this time?” Well, I am angry with JMU’s lack of diversity. In my previous posts, I discussed minority student’s experiences at PWI’s, as well as my own. These stories were laced with racism, prejudice, microaggressions, and white supremacy. They were representations of black student’s experiences at JMU, as well as my own. They were narratives of what it is like to be a black student at JMU. I believe these narratives exist because of JMU’s lack of effort to create true diversity at this institution.
I am not talking about diversity of thought (the diversity that JMU loves to point out). I am talking about real diversity. I am talking about an institution that is not 74.9% white students and 84.7% white professors. JMU’s counterfeit diversity does not impress me.
1) JMU stop pretending the school is diverse
An institution with true diversity does not need to pretend. JMU has a bad habit of using social media and marketing tools to promote the school as a diverse place. In many of the pictures JMU puts out, they include minority students. One of my friends, who works to help market JMU, told me that JMU makes them seek out minority students to get diverse content. If the school was truly diverse, this would not be a concern. Now, some of you may be wondering why I am angry about this. Well, unfortunately, JMU does not value or acknowledge the minorities they do have on campus, but when they need to market something, they use us as tools to portray a facade of the university.
2) Value the minorities you have on campus
JMU does not value the minorities it has on this campus. Often, JMU minorities feel excluded on JMU’s campus. The campus rarely makes attempts to include the minorities in campus events or create inclusive spaces for them. For example, one space for minority students is the Center for Multicultural Students Services. However, many people who are not minority students, do not know that the center exists. They rarely engage with the minority students and the university rarely promotes the events they have.
3) Support minority student’s events
This brings me to my next point! Support minority student’s events. There are so many organizations, on campus, that host events to encourage diversity at our school. Organizations such as DEEP IMPACT host dialogues about diversity–race, ableism, LGBTQ+, social class, etc. These dialogues are hosted to educate the White people on campus and offer them a new perspective. Unfortunately, it is mainly minorities that come to the events. An example of one of these organizations is Students for Minority Outreach, that work to bring more diverse students to campus. They host events like prospective students’ weekend. That weekend allows minorities, who are thinking about coming to JMU, to stay on campus and get a chance to experience JMU with a mentor. JMU minority students are honestly putting more work to bring diverse students than the JMU staff is.
4) Hire more diverse faculty
At any campus, it is important to see yourself represented at a higher level. Unfortunately, this is few and far between at our school. Our school is run by a bunch of old white men, to be honest. I have yet to have a black professor at this school. By not having a diverse slate of faculty and professors, it inhibits minority students from receiving mentors. It further perpetuates a sense of loneliness on campus and gives minority students very few options to seek guidance.
The last thing you can do is care! Start educating yourself. Challenge your bias and step out of your comfort zone. Stop pretending to care and doing what makes you feel comfortable. Minority students are uncomfortable every day they are on campus. You can afford to be uncomfortable for a few minutes. Fight just as hard as minorities are for diversity.
In closing, I would like to say that JMU is far from the perfect picture they try to portray. It has its flaws and it is time they begin trying to fix them and create change.