You are welcome here.
This may as well be Plattsburgh State’s new slogan. It was spearheaded by the Global Education Office to make sure that international students felt welcome on campus. Later, the Student Association, specifically the SA communications team, used it for a campaign during diversity week last spring semester.
Despite the SA’s and my personal efforts, why is it that I feel far from welcome here? This four-word slogan falls short and seems hollow from my experiences on campus the last four years.
I believe that the very reason I can attend PSUC is because I was not originally welcomed here. I was admitted to PSUC through the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), a financial and support service created by New York State for students from low income backgrounds. My matriculation into PSUC was contingent upon my completion of a four-week summer program that served as a scaled down semester. Much of my personal success is due to the support I receive from this program. Many students who apply, unfortunately, are not accepted. Seventy-five students out of 2,500 applicants were admitted into PSUC’s EOP Program this year. First year EOP students who self-identify as racially ethnic make-up 25 percent of this year’s freshman class diversity.
I believe this is the first indicator of my conditional welcome at PSUC. I feel unwelcome at PSUC knowing that EOP is one of the only programs that promotes diversity through admissions. This is wonderful, but it falls short creating a diverse school. We need more than EOP to do that.
Now for indicator two, Greek life. There are only six cultural Greek lettered organizations on campus. Of the six, only one is multicultural, four are Latina/o, and one is historically black by foundation. Although we prosper, support is lacking for both the cultural organizations and students of color interested in bringing more historically ethnic Greek lettered organizations to campus. I would personally, like to see a multicultural Greek council
Let’s be honest, fundamentally, cultural Greek lettered organizations are different from organizations part of the National Panhellenic Council, or what we call mainstream organizations. A condition for being part of Greek life on campus is attending councils and meetings created for mainstream organizations. Although the information can be valuable a lot of the issues discussed are not issues cultural orgs face. My organization has bigger issues to focus on than rules to follow for our next bar crawl event so we can avoid getting sanctioned.
Indicator three, I am the founding president of the Plattsburgh Association of Black Journalists. This is one of many clubs and organizations, students of color strive to bring to campus.
These clubs provide a space for us to connect with and empower other students of color. Simple to understand, right? So why is it that when my board at the time presented to the SA, someone had the audacity to ask how we were different from NABA (the National Association of Black Accountants). It is not rocket science; the difference is in your face. You can read it in its name.
Someone read “black” and automatically assumed it was the same.
All I am saying is Plattsburgh could do a better job of making me feel welcome here. Do not get me wrong, it has made a lot of effort. I am grateful for CDPI (Center for Diversity, Pluralism, and Inclusion), President Ettling, and the Student Association President Vrinda Kumar and all they have done. However, this does not change that more work still needs to be done.
Email at Ruhamiah Bradley at firstname.lastname@example.org