The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Race still an issue at SMU

“Lynch him! Lynch him! Lynch that n%**#$!”

Standing in a group of her peers in the Mustang Band at the SMU vs. TCU football game, Raqketa Williams expected to hear chants of “M-U-S-T-A-N-G-S!” among other SMU favorites that bring the student body together. On the contrary, she heard the above chant, not once, but a couple of times, making her feel less of a part of the “brotherhood” that should exist.

“I guess it was my fault,” Williams said. “I just gave him [the guy who started the cheer] a look the first time. I didn’t say anything until he did it again.”

Williams approached Senate about the incident a couple weeks after the game at its weekly Tuesday afternoon meeting. Sophomore engineering major Jessica Jones left the meeting appalled and went to talk to her advisor and friend, Traci Ray. During their talk, Jones discovered a depressing truth when Ray said, “It hurts me to say that I’m not surprised, because I wish I was.”

Out of the 11,152 students that registered in fall 2005, 2,436, or 21 percent, of those students are considered “ethnic” by the university. Although most people don’t realize it and don’t want to believe it, racist encounters happen on the SMU campus.

Williams is one of a few students who has experienced racist encounters this semester. Another is junior John Holiday, who also discovered the night of the TCU game that racism could affect even him.

For Holiday, the TCU win was one to celebrate.

“I was just so excited and just ecstatic, because I feel like a lucky charm, because every time I go we win,” Holiday said.

After the game, Holiday walked to 7/11 with his friends, and on the way back to Moore Hall, the music performance major broke out into song.

“I was so excited and actin’ crazy – on this natural high.” His “natural high” quickly ended, however.

Holiday was walking backwards down Hillcrest Avenue. In the midst of laughing and singing with his friends, Holiday heard one of his friends gasp and saw expressions of shock on all of his friends’ faces. As he turned to see what they were looking at, someone in a passing car threw a cantaloupe out of the window that hit Holiday’s hand and broke into five pieces.

“You can imagine how hard he threw it – Think about how hard it is to just cut a cantaloupe to eat it, and my hand broke it into five pieces,” he said.

Holiday was holding his cell phone in his hand, and it fell to the ground, nearly obliterated.

Holiday couldn’t feel anything in his hand for up to 10 minutes. He called SMU Police Department immediately afterward, and he says he has yet to see the police report.

Holiday suggested to the police department that they start patrolling the Hillcrest area more often in order to keep things like this from happening.

“I thought I was invisible to racism,” Holiday said. “I shouldn’t be because I am a black man.”

His experience has not made him prejudiced, but Holiday said it has made him aware that it does occur. “That was an event that changed my life,” he said.

Holiday talked to Jennifer Jones, known as “JJ,” of the Department of Multicultural Student Affairs about what had happened that night.

“I just think it’s tragic that any student would have to experience any type of insensitivity like that just based on color – and it’s sad,” Jones said. “But, I think that racism still exists, and it’s not just on this campus. It’s everywhere.”

According to Jones, it is mentalities that people have, fed by a lack of interaction with people of different races, cultures and beliefs, which cause racism. She believes that this mentality is embedded in people’s minds, and it is passed from generation to generation.

“The first and foremost thing we have in common is that we’re human. If we had this common respect, we wouldn’t have those things,” Jones said.

Jones advises students who experience and/or witness racism to take action. “Outside of reporting an issue, the first reaction should not be anger,” she said.

She encourages the students with whom she speaks to “talk it out.” She makes sure that minority students on this campus know that just because they are on a predominantly white campus, they should not expect racism.

According to Jones, dialogue is the key to helping people understand racism and its causes. “We need to get to a point where we can have a conversation about race and issues, with no hostility,” she said.

At SMU, racism is against university policy, as outlined in section 3.14(a) in the student handbook.

It states: “-All members of the University community are protected from harassment, including, but not limited to, members according to their race, ethnicity, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation and religion. Any words or acts deliberately designed to disregard the safety or rights of another and which intimidate, degrade, demean, threaten, haze or otherwise interfere with another person’s rightful action will not be tolerated on the basis of the standards of the SMU community … “

Ray also believes there is racism on campus: “I haven’t experienced it from a student perspective, but I do experience it as a staff member when it comes to working with students,” she said.

She believes that some people are racist unconsciously, which, she says, goes against the whole definition of racism.

According to Ray, racism on this campus is subtle. It mainly consists of stereotypes and certain looks and comments. “Again, I don’t believe they [majority students] understand what the perception could be for a person of color,” Ray said.

The advisor, who most students see as a friend, believes that there is a challenge for the staff on this campus to encourage students to interact with people who are different from themselves. According to Ray, most student organizations are homogeneous, which can make people feel more comfortable in their pursuit for success. But, at the same time, she and other advisors want to challenge students to “step outside their comfort zones and experience things they haven’t.”

SMU students have many opportunities to interact with a varied population of students through organizations, classes and just everyday life. Some students strive to challenge themselves and interact with a diverse group of students.

One such student who endeavors to do this is Lulu Seikaly, who believes that some students “think that everyone is racist towards them.” According to Seiklay, “Some minorities on this campus think that ‘white’ people are always judging them and being racist towards them, but at the same time the ‘white’ people also have that point of view. It needs to really come to a point where people view people as people, no matter where they are from, what religion they practice, or what they look like.”

Another student, SMU cheerleader Alex Haayen, interacts with all students, despite race or any other distinction. “I believe it’s [racism] on campus. I think African-Americans are judged and stereotyped by quote-unquote ‘typical’ SMU students,” Haayen said

Stereotypes are associated with all cultures and races, and some students, such as sophomore Daniel Liu, use humor to help deal with racist stereotypes.

The Asian-American student often makes jokes such as, “It’s because I’m Asian,” when he does well on a test or other things. “For me, that’s my way of breaking down the common stereotype associated with Asians,” Liu said.

Although Liu hasn’t personally experienced racism, he believes that “when an incident does occur, it isn’t reported, and only when people say that it doesn’t exist do people stand up and say it does – because as a multi-cultural student, society doesn’t give you a way to go talk about that and how to deal with it.”

Liu also breaks down the stereotypes by changing his choice of words. He doesn’t like the term “minority,” because he says, “I don’t consider myself a minority even though I may be a minority on this campus – people say that Asians are the ‘perfect minority.’ A lot of people do see Asians as the ‘perfect minority’ because we’re very smart, diligent and successful. You can’t connect someone’s success with a race.”

There are even Web sites devoted to such claims as Asians being the “Model Minority,” such as Its mission it is “to provide this scrutiny in every possible way, so as to educate, inform, provoke and inspire movements by individuals and groups toward Asian American empowerment.”

Its Web site contains stories of some groups at universities that are degrading toward Asian Americans.Like Liu, there are many students who haven’t experienced racism on this campus.

Junior Chane Waldron compares her experiences at SMU with those in high school, saying, “There were nine of us [black students] in high school out of like 485 people. I was the only black person in my middle school from first to sixth grade. Other black people would come to school and think I was so stuck up and snobbish. So, maybe I just don’t notice as much. But, I’m sure it’s been said [racist comments].”

Jones, Waldron and Williams also spoke on African versus African-American racism on campus, which they said is also very much an issue and obvious in every day life. According to Waldron, one of her best friends now wouldn’t talk to her for the first months of school freshman year because she has lighter skin, and her friend just assumed she was snobby and stuck-up.

Jones speaks on racism on campus saying, “The problem lies on both sides, and both groups have to make a conscious effort to be a little bit more open, step out of their comfort zones and break down these barriers. Then, incoming students will see that our campus is diverse – not just by the people that they see, but in the interactions they see amongst people in groups.”

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