This is merely an observation. For the past four and a half years that I?ve been an undergraduate student at this institute of “higher learning,” I?ve noticed two types of professors.The first type is the professor who is apathetic toward their relationship with the students, the university, and the desire to educate. The second is the professor who is excited about educating, involved with the students and campus life, and who is concerned about formulating thought, not just testing from an overpriced textbook.
The latter come few and far between. For minority students on campus, college life can be over demanding and extra-challenging.
I?m not saying all college students don?t face demands and pressures, but minorities not only face G.P.As and major selections, there is also a demand to know the history of their culture and race. There is an extra demand to succeed because of the struggles that their ancestors faced. We all know the saying, “You wouldn?t even have been here if it wasn?t for….” I?m willing to bet that a majority of the minorities on campus are the first in their family to go to college.
Naturally, this would put a lot of pressure on any student who is responsible for representing their entire family.
There is a great deal of pressure on minorities to figure out how it is that they even ?fit in? to society. How should a minority in America feel towards a dominant society that marginalizes and disenfranchises people of color? Or towards a white society that stereotypes blacks into thinking that they?re all drug dealers, rappers or basketball players? How should a minority college student feel about the struggles and discrimination that their forefathers encountered? What about a dominant society that is willing to throw away thousands of votes in neighborhoods that are populated with blacks?
College is thought to be a time where a person begins to gain an understanding of their identity and the world around them. In addition, college is a time where young adults begin to understand why things are the way they are and for what reason certain things happen.
For example: why, in 2005, are there still negative images of blacks on television? Why is there such a large percentage of minorities living in poverty (African Americans, 24 percent; Hispanics, 28 percent, according to U.S Census Bureau)? Why are black neighborhoods so poor, filled with poor resources, and engulfed with a poor educational system, as opposed to white neighborhoods? The majority of ablebodied citizens are aware that these unfortunate situations exist.
However, few understand that these are simply effects of previous causes. The present is always a result of the past.
Naturally, as a college student, it would seem as though the ?professor? is responsible for making sure that the student is well aware of the knowledge of the past and how it relates to the situations of today. The professor of so-called “Higher Education” is the college student ?s primary source between the experiences of the past and the student?s observation of the present, in addition to how the student perceives the future.
Isn?t the professor the one with the experience, the resources and the desire to educate? Am I mistaken, or isn?t the professor, not a textbook, responsible for educating the student, even if this means educating outside the classroom? Most collegeeducation happens outside the classroom, anyway: not from a boring lecture or limited classroom discussion. This leads me to the question: Where are all the professors? The minority students on campus need the professor who is going to be that link between the present and the past. Many speak of this generation as being ignorant, but who is teaching us? Who is sitting down and speaking with us? This generation is blamed for much, but given little.
For the past four and a half years, I?ve never seen a professor of color organize a campus-wide event that dealt with the issues facing minorities.
In fact, I rarely see black professors even participate in campus events. These are the same professors who speak and encourage unity, but fail to initiate activism. Since my first year at WCU, I can count on two hands the number of programs that were initiated by black professors. So I must admit, there have been a few, but they are rare. In addition, these are the same professors who teach the African-American History, Black Literature, and Martin Luther King classes, and whatever other “black” class you want to throw in there that probably meets some requirement mandated by the University.
Why target black professors and other professors of color? The reason is that these professors are the minority students ? link between the past and the present. Without these professors teaching and educating the students on campus, who else will? This education goes beyond the classroom. Why haven?t the black professors collectively gathered and created a mentorship program for (but not limited to) minority students, which would build a great sense of community? In fact, there are even professors here directly from Africa (and other native countries), filled with experience and history.
So why aren?t they a featured lecturer or invited guest to a classroom? Why haven?t they organized to create a program detailing their transition from the homeland to the United States? How do they feel about teaching at a primarily white university? Do any of the professors even work together to help each other out?
If professors of color did educate outside of the classroom, not only would this increase the minority students? awareness and raise their consciousness, but other races as well. People of all colors are yearning to understand what the black struggle and experience is all about. This can?t be done without a more involved and more responsible black leadership on campus, provided by professors of color. Now, I?m not saying that non-minority professors can?t educate minority students. However, there are experiences that black professors have faced, and will continue to face, which minority students can probably relate to and appreciate.
So outside of the “black” topics classes that are being offered, what are these professors doing to raise the campus? level of understanding in regards to minorities and the dominant society? In regards to why minorities are continuously disenfranchised? I dare these Professors to unite, mobilize, and truly educate.
Shane Daniels is a student at West Chester University.