Representation of Diverse Communities

By: Michael Aaron Coopersmith |

When one would look at the basic elements of what makes up a University, they would look at their academic achievements, the passion of teachers and staff, and, most importantly, the community that makes up the student body.

I cite this as being quite an important element because what breathes life into a University is a dynamic and diverse student population that grows with each passing academic year.

Zeroing-in on the word “diverse,” I went to investigate that very description of Radford University’s student population. Yet, I yearned for the perspective of students that belong to diverse communities.

Over the past week, I went and asked three questions. What is your overall feeling about your own community on campus, have you noticed other diverse groups on campus, and are you familiar with any clubs that encompass your culture or values? These questions hopefully give insight into a student’s perspective on their own community and others on campus.

Ross Allison, a 21-year old senior that identifies as a White sis-gender Gay male, transferred to Radford University two years ago. When asking him the first question, he brought on some adversity to the fact that his want to connect to a specific community was not as passionate as some freshmen might feel. 

Allison said, “I don’t feel invisible; I see other queer individuals on campus. Yet, I think that our representation is self-produced invisibility.” Allison clarifying that he thinks this invisibility isn’t due to the need to assimilate to social norms, but that there is just a want not to be noticed solely for their sexuality. 

But, Allison also states that he has seen a good sense of community from his own and other diverse groups. When the conversation steered towards the third question about knowing of clubs that represent his community, Allison was familiar with SPECTRUM. 

“There’s SPECTRUM, yet I’ve heard from people that are LGBTQ, it’s not the best avenue to meet people of the community,” Allison adding that this might be due to a trend he’s noticed of people around 20 to 22 years old not enjoying SPECTRUM.

Juan Diego Alonso Grillo Duran (JD) is also a 21-year old senior who identifies as Hispanic. Duran said, “I don’t connect with people on just the basis of race. Yet, I feel there is a decent amount of Hispanics. I don’t feel excluded on campus as a Hispanic.” 

Duran then follows up by noticing that other non-white groups dwarfed the Asian population here at Radford. Continuing to the final question, Duran concluded, “I think I’ve heard of a couple of clubs, but I’m not interested in joining.”

Cetrina Faria is a 19-year-old freshman who carries a Hispanic-Filipina family background. While talking about the Asian population at Radford University, she states, “Yeah, it’s very hard on campus, there’s not many. I’ve found a few … overall, I feel that I haven’t found many people in my group.” 

Faria cited that back in her hometown, there is a much larger Filipino population compared to here. “We are in the mountains; also, it depends on your home background and where you want to go to college.” 

Faria overcame this adversity by finding a connection with Latinos and the African American community. Having to go to a Latino-student Alliance meeting due to time constraints, she plans on looking more into the club next semester.

Lastly, Kiara Harrison is an 18-year-old Black Freshman. Harrison has quite a different situation than Faria, being that African Americans are the second-largest demographic in the student body, according to Data USA

Harrison citing, “My overall feeling about my community on Radford seems to be pretty good from what I have seen so far.” Harrison also takes notice of other diverse communities and clubs, specifically the Latino-Student Alliance. Concluding with the same problem of not being able to join the Black-Student Alliance due to time constraints.

As stated before, the student body breathes life into a University. People from different diverse groups look towards campus to see that they are united and strong. The ideals of inclusion are deeply respected on this campus. 

Still, we must not forget that these communities are made up of individuals that will take notice of minority groups, and students have the choice to participate in them or not. Some might find solace in them while they are far from home. Others would grow not necessarily needing them, yet still acknowledging that they are not alone.

If you enjoyed this article, check out “Radford’s NAACP marches to celebrate diversity” on The Tartan.

Photo Credit: (truthseeker08 on Pixabay)

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