More black faculty, students should be a priority at UI

It’s no secret that Idaho is a predominantly white space with an intimidating history of white supremacy (Hayden Lake, rape/plunder of Native American lands, blackface incidents, etc.), but this history can make coming to the University of Idaho a little daunting.

The university harbors numerous organizations, clubs, teams and colleges in which black students and faculty have exhibited their dedication to civic engagement, academic excellence and leadership, but these achievements can be difficult for current and prospective Vandals of color to see.

The first African-American to graduate from the University of Idaho was Jennie Eva Hughes in 1899 in a class of seven. Black presence at the university has been constant and complex since its founding. I’ve had the opportunity to interview the university’s few black faculty members and through these interviews, I’ve realized that the university is diverse in press, but not in practice.

February isn’t the only month to appreciate and bolster the black community, and frankly, only the slightest of effort has been given to increase the black population at the university. A social used to be held for new faculty of color to meet other faculty of color, but it’s been abandoned due to lack of support, with the president and other higher-ups not bothering to attend as they had previously.

In the past, when the university noticed there was a small Latino presence on campus, it made an effort, and now they have multiple Greek houses and a greater presence.

Why has so little effort been made for black students outside of athletics? It’s important to have black faculty and students on campus because they offer different insights of the world, and being exposed to new outlooks is how we grow and change into better versions of ourselves.

Bailey Guyette

Astoria, Ore.

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