Panel to determine pros, cons of black college life

By Gloria Carr

“Should black students attend black colleges?”

A panel discussion on this question will be held tonight at 9 p.m. in the Gilbert Hall Cafeteria.

Panelists include Amy Zellner, an NIU graduate student in cellular physiology and graduate of Spellman College in Atlanta, Ga.; Pamela Jackson, hall director for Grant Towers North and also a graduate of Spellman College; and Juan Thomas, an NIU graduate student in biology and a graduate of Jackson State University in Mississippi.

Jackson, who is working on her doctorate in counseling at NIU, said she has found the major difference between colleges to be the number of black role models.

“There were women who proved to me I could do anything in life. It was a boost to my self-esteem and self-confidence,” she said.

Jackson said NIU students must take the initiative to find role models. “There are few role models. It means a student needs to put forth an effort to find role models,” she said.

Zellner also found much support at Spellman. “I found in black colleges you get more support from professors. Since black colleges are smaller, you get more attention,” she said.

The biggest difference she has found between Spellman and NIU is the perception of blacks on campus.

“Everyone just assumes they are here through affirmative action and that every minority student comes through CHANCE,” Zellner said.

However, the decison to attend a black college depends on the individual. Thomas said he decided to attend Jackson State after talking to friends who attended predominately white schools and did not find much academic support.

“The student-teacher interaction was very motivating. They were concerned with what they were teaching. They knew you had potential, and they wanted you to see it,” Thomas said.

For Jackson, the decision had to do with the attitudes she faced growing up in the 60s.

“I had had a lot of problems with racism since I grew up in the 60s. I thought I wouldn’t have that problem at Spellman,” she said.

In speaking with NIU students, Jackson has found the idea of a black college appealing. “Most of them find it very interesting. People ask more questions or like the idea,” she said.