Wash. U. is segregated

Claire Ferguson | op-ed submission

I had been told that St. Louis was a southern town, one with good and bad connotations and positive and negative stereotypes. I knew, too, that Washington University would be a bubble, secluded from most of these. Wash. U., after all, is full of intelligent students all searching for the same mental stimulation and growth.

When we walk onto campus on our first day, we immediately look for a place to fit in, a group that we can establish. We are bombarded at the activities fair by posters and events with groups to join. One thing I noticed through these barrages was the prevalence of ethnically split groups: the Asian Christian Fellowship, the Black Senior Alliance and the Minority Association of Pre-medical Students, for example. Now, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with such clubs. They give one a place of familiarity; they educate the campus; they encourage pride in one’s self and culture. They also work against themselves.

Look around you. Look at the tables at Bear’s Den or the groups walking around campus. What do you see? Do you see the segregation at Wash. U.? I am not saying that Wash. U. is a Jim Crow-like situation; I am just saying that it the segregation is noticeable. If we all earned our spot here by equal standards, why aren’t we all giving each other an equal chance? Why do we flock to groups or people that are like us? I thought we came here to learn; who says that learning has to be only in a classroom?

Now, you may be reading this, angry, thinking that you have diverse friends, that you do not close people off because of their skin or culture. If you are one of those lucky people, then help find a solution, and thank you for being an example.

But, what if you are not? What if, right now, you are realizing there is some truth in my claim? Have you ever felt weird because you realized you were the only white person in a group of Asians or the only African-American student on your floor? Why should that make you stop and think? Aren’t you a person just like they are? How can there still be these holdups in our brains? Why do we play into stereotypes more in college when we are supposed to be maturing? You have to realize that our parents were raised in the time of fire hoses, maids in Jackson, Miss., and Martin Luther King Jr. There is still so much work to be done to create true equality in the human psyche, and change will probably come naturally over time, but why do we have to wait? Why aren’t we making it a conscious decision and taking deliberate action?

It is not old news; it needs to be on the front lines. Realize that we are the next generation of leaders in this country. The fact that there is a noticeable separation among this school’s students is a sad fact. Will this translate into our futures? Perhaps I am being too harsh. Perhaps this is a pointless comment, as I have no easy solution to offer—there isn’t one. I have only to urge this campus to notice and to think. Only then will the change happen.

Claire Ferguson is a freshman in Arts & Sciences.

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