Dear Historically Black Colleges & Universities:
A few weeks ago I listened to the Vice President of Student Affairs of a well-known HBCU as he spoke to my fraternity about using our leadership skills on the campus to help further mentor students who weren’t adjusting to what should be college life should be. He charged us with the task of helping make the college a place where students were hungry to achieve academically while building a healthy social life. “It’s what we must do when we have been given such power,” he said in closing.
While I strongly agree that when one is empowered, one must then empower others, I shook my head and rejected the challenge. What this man was attempting to guilt me into should have first began with the admissions office.
Do not attempt to convince the people your institution is relevant when you are accepting massive amounts of irrelevant students. Being an advocate for education, I believe everyone should be educated, but everyone does not deserve to be accepted into every institution. And while you, dear HBCU’s, are shouting to the people that you are equally competitive, and that your degrees are “just as great” as a degree from any other non-HBCU, I am shouting back that you are a liar. When you are knowingly accepting a less than desirable student who, in high school, demonstrates no academic promise, and whose reading level didn’t move on to 11th grade when the student did.
The dire need to create institutions to educate the underserved no longer exists. Not only does plenty of these institutions exist, but the underserved are being accepted into institutions that once denied them this right. This being said, why must you still feel the need to play the “only chance” role? As a freshman in 2000, having my education paid for by academic and community scholarships, I felt like one of the chosen people. Given the history of the school, it felt good to be among who I thought was also on their way to becoming something and someone great. In a conversation with another freshman, I told her I was there because of the school’s history, traditions, and because it recognized my skills, abilities and achievements. In response, she said “I came because I couldn’t get into anywhere else.” A massive amounts to respect was lost for the hallways and classrooms and buildings I walked between each day.
Dear Mr. Vice President, speak with your admission representatives. Speak with the board. Speak with the president. When the student body is full of students who care as much about education as their educational institution cared about them when their acceptance letter was drafted, then I will step up to the plate and mentor any student you send my way. Today, though, I will happily help reconstruct your admission requirements, as well as help pass out brochures to junior colleges and community colleges to those students who weren’t quite ready to leave high school or home.
I’m fully aware who this letter makes me out to be, and I am fine being that guy.
The Guy Who Attended Two HBCU’s,
Darnell Lamont Walker