Quick! I want you to close your eyes. I want you to picture what you think when you hear Harvard University.
You are probably picturing colossal, red brick buildings with great historical significance along pathways lined with fresh, green grass. You can see Cambridge in the fall with colorful hues of orange and red leaves, as they hang onto magnificent elm trees.
Now close your eyes again, and this time, I want you to picture a typical Harvard University student.
You are probably picturing a young Caucasian male wearing his Harvard University sweater, paired with tan khakis, as he holds his textbooks and strolls around the prestigious university he proudly attends. Now you might be wondering how I’m reading your mind, but I’m not. This is the imagery that the media feeds us and though some of us think of Elle Woods from Legally Blonde when we think of Harvard, the majority of us think of this, but what if that were to change?
In a recent report by the New York Times, Harvard University is facing discrimination probes in response to their most recent admitted freshmen class. For the first time in the school long-standing history, Harvard’s incoming freshmen class has composed of a majority of non-white students. Though many would rejoice in the university’s steps for welcoming a very diverse group of individuals, some do not see this way and sadly the individuals who made the complaint are members of the non-white group.
But in all of this news, I find that the problem that we all are facing is worth; the worth that we have for ourselves and the worth that we give to others.
These complaints made have surrounded a common issue that many minority college students face during their time in higher education, primarily at predominately white universities.
There is this underlined pressure of whether or not you truly deserve your place at the university or if you are simply there to “add color”. You are forced to prove yourself and show that you are not only competent and able to succeed in this rigorous institution but that you have the potential to be more than the stereotypes that society has granted you.
These are real issues that minority students face. These are real issues that even I face and frankly, I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy.
We need to do better.
We need to stop this wrongful thinking that minorities are not worthy of their acceptance into any university, including a prestigious school like Harvard University. We need to remember that these are students that have poured so much time and energy into their studies to exceedingly excel in their studies so that they can live out their dreams and break the glass ceiling. These are dreamers, innovators, strivers and most importantly, people who want better, so we must give them a chance and remember that one does not go into higher education because they want worse or less than for themselves, but they go to strive for better.
Let us break down these ugly stereotypes and complaints about students of color and champion them on as they enter the next phase of their lives. Together, we can make them see that they can go so much further than they could ever imagine and maybe one day, they will be what we picture when we think of Harvard University.
Keep striving and push others to do the same. And don’t forget to…
Pass the Salt!