Cultural education

By Matt Stacionis

Sports Editor

NIU is a very segregated campus.

But it’s not by way of anyone else’s doing. It’s the way people on campus and in the community choose to make it. The lines were drawn in the sand. Student Association elections are nothing more than race wars, and an “us against them” mentality represents the majority of the popular opinion around campus.

Maybe it’s not your opinion in particular, but how about the person sitting next to you? How about the other guys or girls in your fraternity, sorority or organization who mostly resemble your ethnicity? This column poses questions, that’s all. You answer them. The column is also not limited to any certain ethnicity or group. If a person is going to make a remark that applies to one ethnic group, others usually follow.

Car after pulled-over car that I drove by this weekend contained an African-American driver, making the racial lines even clearer. DeKalb’s not far from the city, and is considered to be part of the Chicago-metropolitan area. Shouldn’t the people here be more understanding of racial concerns? If college, be that NIU or any outside DeKalb, is the last stop before the real world, then what’s going to happen?

Are those same comments and feelings about other races going to carry on into the business world or the teaching world or even the journalism world?

The best example of how things work: Grant Towers have a certain “ghetto” reputation built around them. The remarks may generate from the building’s condition, but also may stem from the large racial mix of students who live there.

Lincoln Hall also has garnished a similar reputation. Lincoln may be nicer on the outside, so the remarks lead back to the racial mix of students who live there. African-American students who live in Lincoln are not there to sell drugs and shoot up DeKalb.

They’re at NIU to get their education and better themselves, like all students should be. And just because they live there doesn’t mean white students on other parts of campus need to label them.

This isn’t a simple stereotype. This is as clear cut as black vs. white. NIU students, and this isn’t meant toward every single student that takes a class here, have made very little attempt to ease the pain. Granted, both sides have had a large number of barriers in the path to equality. There have been fights, marches and seminars to try and fix the problem. But nothing has changed because the people who are making the remarks are sitting in their dorm room or apartment with their buddies pointing how something’s wrong with the other race.

A common argument may be that people would rather stay with those of their own culture or race or nationality. That’s fine, until you start isolating other people because of that train of thought. That’s segregation.

There are people who try to ease the tension that remains standing. But for every day they go through the process of trying to better everyone, one negative word can take it away. Sometimes words carry more weight for both sides than a loaded gun.

If a person on this campus can make a comment like, “I don’t have a problem with you unless you’re black,” then we’re all in trouble. That person doesn’t speak for everyone, but certainly isn’t alone.

How many times have you seen a white person drive past Harold’s Chicken to go to Kentucky Fried Chicken to eat?

How many white people naturally thought of a black person when they heard there was a shooting on Regent Drive?

How many times have you seen someone of a different race leave a party filled mainly with white students?

How many times have you walked past an open seat next to someone of a different race to sit next to someone who looks like you?

This weekend a concert featuring Chicago-area rappers came to town. The show also featured an after-party which was held at the Office of Campus Recreation. The place was lined with police officers. They were doing their job, and there were a lot of people there, but what message did that send to the out-of-town fans the concert brought?

This column just asks the questions, you have to answer them, and if you don’t like it, then it’s your fault. After reading this column, you may be angry or frustrated, but that’s the hard part about reality.

We need to make efforts to solve this problem. If people don’t like living in a place they’ve deemed “ghetto,” then move out.

If white students feel the need to blast someone, for any reason, because they’re black, then they should leave school now. They need to get an education that no class will ever teach them.

This is the kind of thinking that could lead the entire campus into a huge race war one day. And the origin could be something as little as a simple six-letter word.

Believe it.