There are almost no black or Hispanic professors at Oklahoma Christian University. I find this highly problematic.
As a sophomore and a minority at Oklahoma Christian, I can emphatically say the phrase “OC is home” without hesitation. I love participating in a club and with various organizations on campus, my professors are genuinely kind and I have met the best people in the world in the middle of Edmond, OK. But, attending a school where none of the professors look like me comes with challenges.
There are many complications in hiring minority professors on campus. For starters, minority scholars are highly wanted at all universities, and state schools can provide higher salaries than smaller private colleges. Still, the lack of diversity among Oklahoma Christian administrations and faculty makes me feel uncomfortable.
Growing up, I only had a handful of minority teachers. I remember coming home on the first day of my senior year in high school overjoyed simply because my creative writing teacher was black and a woman. I won the lottery. I had not had a teacher who truly understood me in this fundamental way since the first grade, and because of where I chose to attend college, I may never have one again.
While it may not seem like a big deal to have educated professionals of different races at Oklahoma Christian, let me assure you, it changes everything. Whether you believe it or not, racial inequality not only exists but prevails in American society. Just because we had one half-black U.S. president does not mean racism is over and we can all hold hands singing “Kumbaya” around a fire. The country still has a long way to go.
Frankly, Oklahoma Christian has a long way to go.
I promise I am not a crazy liberal attempting to ignite a race war, and I cannot speak on behalf of every minority at Oklahoma Christian, but my reality in America is vastly different than my white peers. So, when there are no professors who can empathize with me and other black students when a crisis strikes in our community, I find it disheartening.
I want to attend a university with professors of the highest quality, and I understand we do not live in the most diverse place in America, but I have to wonder if there has been enough of a concerted effort to hire people of all backgrounds to work at Oklahoma Christian.
The Oklahoma Christian mission statement aims to cultivate “a higher learning community that transforms lives for Christian faith, scholarship and service.” How can Oklahoma Christian truly transform lives when there is a singularized perspective amplified toward the student population? While not every professor has the same political ideologies and students are provided with a wide variety of intellectual ideas to grapple with, almost no professor has been racially marginalized in society.
In college, students should have the opportunity to find their identity and expose themselves to a plethora of diverse ideas. Without diversity in the Oklahoma Christian faculty and staff, students are not able to grow to their full social or intellectual capacity. More diversity among professors’ insights brings the potential for more ideas.
The lack of diversity among the faculty and student population at Oklahoma Christian also hinders the social awareness of everyone on campus. Though we currently live in a city with 12.3 times more white residents than any other race or ethnicity, students will inevitably run into people of all races throughout their lifetime. Allowing students to face their potential ignorance now, during their transformative years, makes the university look infinitely better when less-ignorant alumni engage in racial discussion 30 years later while wearing Oklahoma Christian sweatshirts.
I know not every student and faculty member at Oklahoma Christian dwells in willful ignorance—though many do—and the effort to have a multicultural program on campus illustrates the good intentions of administrators. But, having just a single person on staff to spend only a fraction of his time devoted to multicultural issues is not enough.
Celebrating Black History Month and allowing the Black Student Union to promote racial conversation does not indicate a healthy relationship between all races on campus. Furthermore, the university hardly recognized Hispanic Heritage Month. The single event to celebrate this month was organized by minority students in the Student Government Association.
No university has a perfect record when it comes to race. But, in the 21st Century, I don’t think it is normal to have an almost entirely white faculty and staff. I have loved my time so far at Oklahoma Christian, but I believe every student here could have an even better college experience with a diverse faculty.