This story is a part of a larger series. A description of the purpose of the series can be found here.
I was so excited to come to Calvin, especially after experiencing Entrada (the summer scholars program for minority high school students). Although my family was against me coming to Calvin because of my background and for financial reasons, I was convinced that Calvin was the perfect fit for me. And that is still the case: I couldn’t picture myself being in another college, even though I am pressed daily to consider a more diverse community.
I will never forget the day a professor made me feel uncomfortable in front of our whole classroom. We did an exercise called “Privilege Walk.” All the students stood shoulder to shoulder in a line. He directed us to “move forward a step if your parents are paying for your college education.”
After a few similar statements I knew that the exercise was a demonstration of race and white power based on the fact that I was only moving a few steps forward while others ahead of me were far beyond my reach. At the end, the professor handed a candy bar to whoever got closest to him. I wasn’t even close to getting that candy bar. I felt that instead of students trying to understand what the professor wanted to show us, they focused on who was left behind.
I could feel my face getting hot, and I was so ready for it to be over. I talked to the professor about it afterward, and he apologized, but I still wanted to be completely done with the class. This is not the only time that I have been confronted by uncomfortable situations at Calvin, but this is one that impacted me a lot.
I also can never grasp why people don’t come to the Multicultural Student Development Office (MSDO) events and why they think it is only for students of color when the acronym clearly states MULTICULTURAL.
It is extremely hard to emphasize to people at Calvin that we must talk about race and ethnicity to become cross-cultural. I couldn’t tell you how many times people at Calvin asked me if I was black, and when I told them that I was Dominican, replied, “oh, I didn’t know you were biracial!”
Calvin wants to be diverse, but I see little effort to try to engage with the people at Calvin who give the college the LITTLE diversity that it has. I really love it at Calvin, and I always defend it when others speak badly about it. I just wish Calvin would love me and acknowledge that I am here too. I am not just a demographic to add to the school. I am a person of color, who wants to feel welcomed, and a person who earned her right to be here at Calvin, just like everybody else.