A couple months ago, students at the University of Michigan from the Black Student Union created the hashtag #BBUM (Being Black at the University of Michigan). The idea began after the fraternity Theta Xi threw a “Hood Ratchet Thursday” party, which involved cultural stereotypes. After this, students were inspired to take action and share their experiences of being black on campus.
According to the Michigan Daily, U of M’s newspaper, the enrollment of minorities has fallen since the 2006 ballot initiative that banned the consideration of race and other factors in college admissions. In fall 2013, only 4.65 percent made up the black students of the undergraduate population, unlike 2006 when it was 7 percent.
Other universities are being inspired by the actions taken at U of M. The University of New Hampshire began using their hashtag #BAMUNH (Being A Minority at the University of New Hampshire). This hashtag had students share their experiences of being a member of a minority race and group.
According to an article in USA Today College, Otis Douce, the multi-cultural coordinator at the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, said the hashtag started as a way for students to express any concerns they had.
OMSA members and other students on campus gathered together to have a talk about being a minority on campus whether it be because of race, sexuality, gender or religion. The event was titled “OMSA: Say What?,” and students were able to share the struggles of being a minority. In spring 2013, there were more than 11,000 white students, 170 black students, 300 Asian students, 347 Hispanic or Latino students and 207 students of two or more races (USA Today College).
One black male student talked about how he is constantly asked whether he is either a football or basketball player at the University. When he answers that he is neither, he explained that the follow-up question is usually asking why he even goes to the school then. He stated that he goes for the same reason as everyone else, which is to get an education.
The topic of sexuality was also brought up at the OMSA discussion, where students stated that they were frustrated with hearing the phrase, “That’s so gay.” Douce explained that by posting the tweets, others will be able to realize the experiences going on with their classmates.
“It should be an opportunity for them to listen to some of those hidden experiences and how they may be contributing to some of these experiences,” Douce said.
This Editorial Board applauds these Universities for taking action for minorities on campus. It is hard for others to feel accepted especially if they come from a different background or culture. However, these students are making it known that this does need to end and that all students must speak up to end it.
Fortunately, Illinois State University does have many organizations for all students such as Asian-Pacific American Coalition, Black Student Union, Pride and many others. These groups discuss issues in their specific community and raise awareness on campus for all to understand their message of acceptance and appreciation.