When I first came to Denison last semester, I felt like I was already prepared. My high school was an affluent, predominantly white institution, so what’s the difference?
I was used to the privilege, the entitlement and the blatant lack of diversity despite their flyers and brochures trying to say otherwise. However, as accustomed as I thought I was to these homogenous institutions, the lack of representation still bothered me.
It was not until I had my first Black teachers here at Denison that I realized I was socially conditioned to expect and accept having predominantly white teachers, no matter the subject.
Currently, Denison has no Black faculty in the following majors: philosophy, global commerce, computer science, history, earth and environmental sciences, and biochemistry/chemistry. In addition, there is about one Black faculty member in communication, creative writing, English literature, and biology. The blatant lack of racial representation doesn’t stop there: it extends to the administration. Right now, there is only one Black administrator on the senior staff.
I want to make clear that I am not saying the white teachers and administration here at Denison are not talented and capable, as I believe quite the opposite. I am also appreciative of all the white faculty and administration whom I have interacted with during my time at Denison.
However, I can be grateful while still wanting more for myself and those who look like me.
Teachers are not just educators; they’re role models. They’re mentors. And if you’re lucky enough to have the right ones, they’re people you can trust with your hopes and dreams.
During my first year on campus, I have had Black teachers in three of my classes, something that would have been unheard of at my high school. My experiences with every one of them has been nothing short of amazing. I was able to look at each one of them and see the potential and the opportunities that American society tries so hard to take away from me and those who look like me.
When I look at a professor well-versed and educated in my interests and passions, I’m impressed. Yet, when the professor is so well-versed and educated in my passions and also happens to look like me, I’m relieved. It makes me feel as if this is possible and as if I can do this too.
And the benefits of Black faculty and administration doesn’t only impact the Black students on campus. Rather, it affects the white students as well. It allows for white students to gain a different perspective that they may not have had before they came to Denison. Additionally, it prepares them for the different cultures and perspectives that will be present both during and after their four years on campus.
As a university that preaches social progression and morality, we should pursue representation in both faculty and administration.
The blatant lack of Black faculty and administration is noticeable and discouraging to the student body, specifically the Black students. So, this is my challenge to Denison University: do not merely preach morality and social progression, actually do it.