Differently raced roommates rarely an issue

By Jermaine Pigee

DeKALB | At such a diverse campus, interracial roommates can be commonplace.

Many students live with others who, on the surface, may appear to be nothing like them. On closer inspection, students find they’re more similar than different.

Two friends, one stranger

Don Soucek, a freshman social work major, and Ian Smith, a freshman criminal justice major, have known each other since high school and are two of three roommates living in a triple at Douglas Hall.

“My roommate is my best friend,” said Soucek. “I’ve known him for three years. We have the same background, we both came from single-parent homes and are from the south side of Chicago.”

Though Soucek is white and Smith is black, the race difference between the two has never mattered to either of them.

Wyatt Spiese, the duo’s new white roommate and freshman computer science major, didn’t know Soucek or Smith before living with them.

“The race barrier was not a big deal at first,” Spiese said. “I was unsure about the music at first, but I’m used to it now.”

Spiese said he does not look at people and see color, but instead sees a friend with whom he can spend many fun college nights.

First-time roommates

Ira Milton, a junior business administration major from Chicago’s west side, and Tim Godsey, a sophomore meteorology major from Waukegan, were assigned to the same room in Douglas this year. Milton is black and Godsey is white. The two had never met before and only spoke on the telephone the evening before they were to move in.

Neither of them were concerned about living with someone of another race. They didn’t even realize this was the case until meeting each other at move-in.

“It didn’t even occur to me whether to find out his race or not because it’s not an issue,” Milton said. “I guess just being who I am and growing up in an area that was multi-racial, it didn’t even matter to me.”

Both students agree being open with each other is key to getting along.

“It’s all about compromise and an open mind,” Milton said. “If you’re open, there’s not many things that you won’t be able to tolerate. You go to college for an experience and you should make the whole thing an experience.”

Godsey and Milton said they think NIU is very segregated. They said they think people should be more open to getting to know others they assume are not like them.

“Some [people], to me, just don’t have an open mind or show no sign of wanting to be open and venture outside of their color,” Milton said.

Godsey and Milton said they thought the various organizations NIU has to offer can help in opening the eyes of others on campus, but at the same time may contribute to further dividing students.

The numbers of students from different racial/ethnic backgrounds have been increasing at NIU with each passing year.

On a campus that is more diverse than ever, the chances of students ending up in interracial living situations also increases. Milton said he thought it would be good if more students were in a situation similar to his.

“The separation is contributing to the ignorance; why would you want to do that?” Milton said. “It would be easier if everyone got along, and in reality, we know that everyone won’t get along. But if attempts are made, then what’s the harm?”