Change for the willing

The only way to solve a problem is to think of a solution and then take action. It seems like a simple enough idea, but considering the number of problems there are, even on just this campus, we’re wondering if enough people are doing this.

The Daily Kent Stater editorial board met with the Kent State NAACP executive board Tuesday night to hold an open discussion with any and all interested parties – you might have seen the fliers.

Our hope, as it was with the meeting with Undergraduate Student Senate and city officials, was to let students participate in free dialogue with student leaders, asking questions of the leaders and telling them what changes they’d like to see. Tuesday night was even more productive than our last discussion.

The discussion covered a number of topics ranging from how Residence Hall Directors and Residence Assistants can work better with minority students to cooperating with student leaders to improve student organizations. The great part about the discussion was that everyone involved was honest about his or her own experiences and thoughts.

A couple of Residence Services employees came to the discussion, asking how they can help their residents of different races live together. They talked about the culture shock of coming from predominantly white or black communities and then living with students who don’t look like them.

It’s great they came to the discussion. They saw a problem and wanted to fix it. Our question is, where was every other RHD and RA? This isn’t a problem only those Residence Services employees face. Minority students live in every residence hall; therefore, every RHD and RA should have deeper training.

They should set up meetings with Kent State NAACP and Black United Students, as well as other racial and sexual minority groups on campus, to gain that personal, one-on-one experience.

Another topic that arose was that the racial diversity of Kent State’s faculty does not match the racial diversity of its students. Look around campus. Pay attention in the buildings. Where are your minority faculty? Most of the black faculty are in or work with Pan-African Studies. While there is some logic to having more black faculty in that department, there’s no reason why the university couldn’t have more black professors in other departments as well. It’s a problem when the faculty doesn’t look like the students they teach, and that goes for all races.

One student brought up a very important issue of whether students feel they are part of the community even if they don’t join an organization.

That’s a tough situation to face. Most of the students on this campus are white; it’s pretty easy to feel represented when part of the majority. Being part of a group shouldn’t mean you aren’t part of a community, but perhaps joining the group would allow you to start tearing away that feeling of obligation. If the only reason you don’t want to join a student group is because of the leader, remember that change only occurs when you make it happen. It’s up to you.

The editorial board co-host more of these forums next semester. If your group is interested in co-hosting with us, please contact us at [email protected].

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.