Indiana Daily Student

Black voices at IU: What it’s really like

As the 2021-22 school year recently came to a close, students are reflecting on their time at IU. For some students, IU has been a wonderful home to them. However, many other students have complex feelings about their experiences on campus, which is quite different from the experiences of white students.

IU junior Diamond Blevins said she attended IU because of the Groups Scholars Program, much like many other Black students. Due to some internal issues, however, Blevins decided to transfer after this past school year. 

“I personally do feel my identity impacts the way I navigate campus because it makes me more cautious of things that are happening,” Blevins said.

Blevins said she doesn't feel as carefree on campus due to her identities but feels she would if she were to attend another institution. 

While Blevins has stated she has learned some valuable lessons from IU, she is quite displeased with how certain issues, like sexual assault, have been dealt with on campus. 

“I think sometimes IU tends to sweep things under the rug and try to pretend certain things never happened,” Blevins said. “Majority of the time, they do not inform the students of the incidents that are happening on campus.”

Graduating senior Escarvar Tatum said he was motivated to attend IU because he would become the first male in his family to attend a four-year institution. Tatum also said he felt Bloomington already had a great village here based on the community of people. 

While Tatum said his experience has been fantastic overall here at IU, he still faced challenges related to his identity. 

“I feel that identities impact the way I navigate on campus less now than pre-COVID,” Tatum said. “I was concerned about playing the right part of assimilating to fit in with my white peers.”

For many Black students, we have felt the need to downplay ourselves in order to fit in with the overarching culture of IU, which tends to favor white students, as they make up an overwhelming majority of the campus population. 

Tatum said trying to fit in with white culture at IU took a toll on his mental health. 

While Tatum has not been directly targeted based on his identities on campus, he said one of them may have protected him from being made a target.

“I do believe I have not been outright targeted due to my privileges as a cisgender presenting male,” Tatum said. “This allows me some wiggle room in how others treat me.”

For others, their identities have not protected them from being targets of racism and other discriminatory acts. 

Tatum said as a Black student, he does not feel he has all the tools necessary for success after IU. He said a lot of Black students he has talked to do not feel comfortable at IU. 

“Improvements can be made by having incoming students take a class on bias,” Tatum said. “This is because their white peers are not used to being around Black people and therefore view us differently. They do not see us as human, but more so objects.”

Black students could use more care at IU. Our voices should be considered in every space on campus in order for the institution as a whole to improve.

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