This past week, I had the opportunity to go to WVSU Day at the Capitol. This was my first time. I then had to ask myself: why is this not advertised and acknowledged more by the people who attend and work for the school?
The main thing that pulls prospective students to attend HBCUs is the environment. Faculty and staff are the pulse, coursing students through the veins of the campus and bringing life to every inch of the institution.
However since my freshman year, I’ve seen the veins shrivel.
From the freshman perspective, one is supposed to be embraced by the sense of belonging when stepping on a college campus… a small one at that. When I first came to WVSU, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I would be taken care of as long as I went here. People like Momma Howard, Belinda Fuller and Mr. Oden made me feel like no matter what, I could turn to someone when needed.
Today, not so much.
The uniqueness of a HBCU education is the quality educators that want to see you genuinely grow. The same people who want to see you grow had people who wanted to see them grow. Students have opportunities they may not have at other institutions.
At State, only a few students can truly say that they’ve experienced this “sense of community”. It’s unnerving. Students are transferring and looking to other institutions by their second year. Why? We no longer belong at State.
More and more students are feeling less connected on campus. This affects the retention rate and the potential for students to end up staying for their full tenure and become active alumni.
Yes, there are their factors that can determine how active an alum becomes after graduation. But their experience throughout their college journey is one of the largest determinants.
Closing out my own senior year, I strive to ensure that all students have the same experiences that I have had attending State. My bonds and relationships will spur me to give and ensure that the same bonds and relationships are reciprocated.
Our bonds are the community and the “HBCU Feel” that we strive to achieve. But everyone doesn’t feel this.
The question is: how do we ensure everyone gets to experience community? We have to hold each other accountable and start truly practicing what we preach if we want to truly see change. And belong again.