Yes, we know that HBCUs are vital to success of many minority students in the country. However, we do know that there are some things that may turn a student away from attending an HBCU. These issues can be alleviated if the students who are currently enrolled at these institutions of higher learning.
Connection between the University and Community
Traditionally, Historically Black Colleges and Universities were founded and established in Black communities that were connected to the life of the school. Over the years, with different factors equating into it, the HBCU seems to have lost the strong relationship with the community. With integration and advances in social issues, many institutions no longer feel that they need to be connected to the community who had their backs since their inception. The students who are currently enrolled at HBCUs and those interested in attending an HBCU can change this climate and help to repair this relationship with volunteer efforts and other community events.
Tolerance of LGBTQ Students
The issue of a person’s sexual orientation has always held a negative connotation. In the Black community, there is even a larger negativity placed towards individuals who are not what society deems as “normal.” According to campuspride.org, a website that gauges the level of campus safety for LGBTQ Students, “No HBCU is currently listed on Campus Pride’s Campus Climate Index. Currently, of the 106 HBCUs, only 21% or 22 host LGBTQ organizations.” This is not an acceptable number when we have a large number of our students who are LGBTQ. If the students that currently attend these institutions come together and demand a change, this issue would not be one that stops a prospective student from attending a particular institution. Yes, there are some instances of tolerance and a welcomed atmosphere on the campuses of Historically Black Colleges and/or Universities, but we need to do more towards establishing LGBTQ and Ally Organizations.
One entity that carries weight on the campus of an HBCU is the membership into a sorority or fraternity. This membership often comes at a price, a price that some may not want to pay. With the positive things that they do, there is often a dark side that makes these organizations less desirable. This dark presence is Hazing. The culture of Hazing seems to have emerged with a frequency at many HBCUs today. We recently saw a student who died as a result of Hazing to become a part of an organization at Florida A&M University. This issue could be resolved in members and prospective members attended training sessions that can offer preventative actions against Hazing. If prospective members, members of these organizations and University officials work together, the fear or stigma related to a sorority or fraternity can be diminished at these institutions.
We have to work together to make our HBCU community to be a continued mainstay. Our need to maintain our relevancy could be influenced negatively by these issues, but if current students and University officials work together, then these things would not seem as major.