How Can You Support Minority Clubs?
Reported by Elliot Coulter
There are four clubs for people of color (POC) at George Fox University (GFU). Although GFU is predominantly white, there is still a large group of minorities who can often be forgotten on campus.
The tendency is to see the typical GFU student as a white, straight Christian. People from that specific demographic can easily forget to acknowledge both their privilege and how necessary it is to participate in other cultures.
Bryce Coefield, associate director of multicultural student development at GFU, says that the biggest benefit to having POC clubs is student success.
“As higher education researchers,and administrators, we know that when there are ethnic specific groups on campus, all students succeed more,” Coefield said.
He highly recommends that white students participate in POC clubs. “All of our ethnic orgs are open to all students. I think there is a good healthy tension between spaces that are for specific reasons and open to all.”
“You don’t have to identify as part…of a specific ethnic group to participate. However, there should be an understanding that the group focuses on needs and conversations specific to that community.”
The best way to participate is “showing up consistently,” Coefield said. “Listening is, of course, important when we enter communities that we may be unfamiliar with, but there are times when using our voice is critical too. The process of figuring out when to listen and when to speak up is a dance that takes time.”
Jessica Coyne, president of the Black Student Union (BSU), agrees that listening is a vital part of white students’ participation in POC clubs. She says, “Listening is crucial to have a posture of learning. Regardless of [whether] it's something that one disagrees with or not, realizing that our lived experiences are different, but each should be valued equally is important.”
Many at GFU have stressed the importance of learning from other cultures, especially those like Coefield and Coyne. The only way to do learn is to actively listen. Speak when you feel it is necessary, but be prepared for feedback from people of color. Remember, you are not the expert on another culture.
Come to another culture as a child would, curious and ready to learn. When needed, fight for people of color to get a platform for speaking. Do not assume it is your right to speak for those people, but do be prepared to defend them or correct others who have white privilege.