UConn: Iffy at best


According to Amar Batra, UConn hasn’t always gotten it right when dealing with issues and troubles of minority students. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Today is April 25, 2017. That means in exactly 13 days I will (hopefully) graduate from the University of Connecticut with a degree in mathematics-statistics. It also means that, come May 7, I will have spent 1,353 days as a student at UConn. 1,353 days is a long time to stay in one place and in those almost 1,500 days a lot of things have happened and many of those things have been positive. I have had the ability to take courses with some of the most qualified people in the country and I’ve had the opportunity to pursue my hobbies and grow my passion in both photography and journalism as a whole. But unfortunately (or fortunately) I also came to UConn as minority and being a minority on campus has certainly been a challenge. So UConn, for my final column you’re the one on the chopping block. For everyone reading, consider this my review of UConn.

Thirty thousand people. That’s about how many students UConn has on the Storrs campus. It’s a fairly large campus and it is nice to see there is diversity across both majors and cultural organizations. In every department you have professors who come from different walks of life with the sole purpose of training the next generation of leaders, thinkers and innovators. The cultural centers are some of the greatest organizations to ever grace this campus and they are open and inclusive to whether you are native to that culture or not. Additionally, there are so many wonderful clubs and organizations on campus that allow for all students to pursue their interests. For example I decided to “sell my soul” to the Daily Campus and have never looked back. Unfortunately, I can only dedicate one paragraph of my review to the good things about UConn.

It wouldn’t be UConn if there weren’t some kind of big incident to mar what could have been a great and productive year. My freshman year (fall 2013-spring 2014) there were the Title IX allegations and lawsuits against the university and, for some reason, UConn decided to hide behind lawyers at the beginning and hope that everything would just go away.

My sophomore year was, of course, the time of the infamous event involving a historically white fraternity, a historically African-American sorority and the “Spirit Rock.” At least this time there was some justice with Pi Kappa Alpha being removed from campus.

My junior year things really came to a head with the post-Paris attack racism. Notes were left on Middle Eastern students’ doors calling them terrorists. African-American students were told they should be lynched on Facebook pages and apps like Yik Yak. My mom told me to shave my beard so nobody got any ideas about who I am and what my background is. It seemed as though campus was going to explode in civil war.

This year was clearly marred by the election of Donald Trump and UConn finally got the answer right by voting to make the campus a sanctuary city.

Many of you are going to say these incidents are few and far between and don’t accurately represent the culture and place that UConn is. You’ll say the UConn community isn’t divided and you can clearly see that when you go to a sports game and see everyone cheering together. You’ll also probably say all of this from the privilege of being a white male who’s never experienced discrimination in his entire life. And for your sports example, I pose these questions: How many women’s sports games have you gone to? Did you know that aside from women’s basketball, we have nationally-ranked teams in women’s soccer and field hockey? Have you ever made any jokes about a student-athlete of color’s intelligence or mentioned that whatever sport they are playing is the only thing they are good at? Congrats, your privilege is showing.

UConn, as a school, remains as divided as our nation. We are not some bubble in the northeast where nothing goes wrong and everyone is going to live happily ever after. What all of this simply means is we, as a campus community, need to do better. Everyone single one of you so-called allies who says they support minorities needs to show it by coming out to every protest and every single sit-in. You can no longer hide behind the blanket statement, “well I didn’t do it.” If you want to support minorities’ fights then you need to join the fight.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love UConn and this student body like it’s my family but something has got to change and soon. For now I can only give the school a 3/5. I give UConn a solid ‘D.’ Sure it’s passing, but just barely. Now’s the time Huskies, fix yourself so we can move forward into the future.

Amar Batra is a senior staff photographer and opinion’s staff columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email amar.batra@uconn.edu. He tweets at @amar_batra19.

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