Southern Adventist University is an incredibly diverse school for its location. Here in the South, and especially in the city of Collegedale, TN, you do not generally find many people of different backgrounds.
According to the most recent American Community Survey (ACS), 78.7% of the Collegedale population is made up of white people. Because of this, the diverse influx of students at Southern is a rarity, which has, unfortunately, been underrepresented.
Although Southern has made various attempts to represent various cultures through Latin American Club, Black Christian Union and Asian Club, it still tends to come up short. In a school, community and country that is majority white, there is always more that can and should be done for minorities. In a university that places so much emphasis on being a welcoming place for international students and uses its diversity to draw in incoming undergraduates, there is an additional responsibility placed on the shoulders of the administration to do so.
There are many things that can and should be done for better representation. One idea is, instead of celebrating these different cultures only one month in the entire school year (Latin American Heritage Month, Black History Month, etc.), they should be celebrated year-round to make these different cultures feel more included. Another is that more Vespers/seminars should be given for these students of different backgrounds, so they may speak about their own experiences and represent their cultures as they see fit. Having this more frequently would also help to further educate white students on issues that minorities face.
Another idea that I would particularly like to place emphasis on is creating more safe spaces for minorities within the school. It is certainly not easy to live in a country that already has racism and/or xenophobia at every corner, and having a safe space for people of the same background to come together and talk and share their experiences would be incredibly beneficial and help build an overall healthier atmosphere on campus.
The different students attending school here bring more culture and life to not just Southern, but to the entire community surrounding it. In a world where so much has already been taken from different cultures, the least that could be done is to give back and provide proper representation.
Written by: Isabella Eklund