By Chelsie Larose
When it comes to choosing to attend or working at a university, incoming freshmen and professors either hold high expectations or do not know what to expect. These schools are known for their history and played an influential role in black 90’s and early 2000’s television.
Students and staff have much to look forward to at these schools, but it isn’t always what they expect it to be. Everyone goes into an HBCU with different intensions and expectations, and it’s always interesting to see what those are.
Raphael Jason-Morgan, a junior from New York at DSU, says it wasn’t his plan to attend an HBCU, so there wasn’t much for him to expect. To him, college was just another level of education, but he came here with an open mind and is now extremely social on campus. What Raphael looked forward to was to attend a university, where he would be surrounded by his own people and familiar cultural experiences. He knew that would bring him a sense of comfort, and remind him of his hometown. When he first arrived, he didn’t aim to get involved on campus. However, after being here and meeting new people, he changed his mind and is now very active on campus.
When Raphael came to Delaware State, he was pleased to discover all of the other races the student body had to offer. Something Raphael says that shocked him when he came were the various dances from different regions. “It’s dope because now you see where other people come from and how they live,” he said.
Raphael is a student who holds a lot of school spirit when it comes to his HBCU. He wasn’t one to show much school spirit before arriving to DSU, so he figured that his nature would have remained the same. For him, attending different campus events such as shows and sports, he found that he couldn’t help but feel that HBCU pride. Delaware State’s alumni impressed him with their school pride. It was as if no matter how far they lived, they always came out to the events and showed their HBCU love and school spirit.
If there was anything Raphael would change about his HBCU experience, it would be the current student school spirit. From time to time, he hears a lot of students complain and he feels that maybe if they put themselves out there on campus more, there could be more memorable moments to cherish. Raphael feels blessed to attend an HBCU and feels that at another type of school he wouldn’t be there for the experience, but just for his degree. He now feels that those coming into an HBCU should come with the intensions to “engage, get involved, evolve, and elevate themselves”.
Janaya Lowe, a freshman at DSU, always planned on attending an HBCU, but based her outlook on them off what she saw through the media. Movies and shows are famous for showing off the Greeks on a college campus. Movies like Stomp the Yard, and shows like A Different World, gave her a false representation of Greeks, portraying strolling or stepping as their only impact on their schools. Janaya, who happens to be a part of an organization on campus called “The Movement,” says other organizations are the way she imagined them – pro black, diverse organizations, and here to fit the needs of most students on campus.
On television, the university students are always partying and typically seem to get along. Throughout an actual campus and on social media, tension between students is common. “I feel like it’s mostly [the] freshmen… the upperclassmen, they’re more mature,” says Janaya. Though the freshmen can be immature, Janaya was shocked by how friendly a lot of students on campus can be. Everyone greets each other every day. Being from New York City, this surprised her because the people of her home state don’t always greet each other, and tend to be more aggressive.
Both Janaya and Raphael have seen their fair share of HBCU sweethearts. For Janaya, she didn’t expect to find someone she was willing to try a relationship with in her freshman year. She feels an HBCU is the best place to find “black love,” and she has seen the beautiful outcomes of it.
Raphael had no expectations pertaining to relationships in college, but has seen different relationships on campus during his years. He’s observed love from seeing long term relationships, to seeing someone propose to his HBCU sweetheart right after graduating. Black love is always in the air at an HBCU, and it is a blessing to find it.
Greek life is a major part of an HBCU experience, whether you cross or not. Zhanice Reid, a senior at DSU, is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Like Janaya, Zhanice says she was ignorant towards Greek life as a freshman and based HBCU Greeks on what she saw on television. She thought Greeks would be outside on their yards all the time, and that they would do no more than stroll. After doing some research, Zhanice found that Greeks actually held programs on campus and participated in a lot of community service rather than solely partying and entertaining.
Zhanice explained that not all Greek community service is showcased and states, “our main thing, I can say for all Greeks, is to give back to the community.” Zhanice, specifically speaking on the behalf of the Deltas, says they hold educational programs to teach the students something new, as well as making the programs fun for everyone who attends. Greeks also hold a step show every homecoming. There, old and current students come out to compete in order to determine “who’s gonna be running the yard for the next year,” as Zhanice puts it.
Zhanice believed that Greeks were “probably at the highest of the totem pole,” when she arrived. This is something that many incoming freshmen believe as well, and a lot of them aspire to become Greek. Zhanice says that they shouldn’t come in thinking their only commitment would be towards step shows, but would be a lifelong commitment to the service Greeks provide. Zhanice used to look at alumni who came back wearing their letters as show offs, but now as a member of a Greek organization, she sees that that is not the case. “…it’s really a fun, loving thing because we’re all a D9 family.”
Working at Delaware State University is Mrs. Ava Perrine’s first experience at an HBCU. Mrs. Perrine is a black woman, who grew up in mostly black communities, so the environment of a black school wasn’t something new to her. She attended a PWI as an undergraduate and graduate student. She says the two types of schools are similar in that they both have many organizations, Greek life, lots of parties, and crazy kids. Something that is interesting to her, is seeing that same college experience she had now translated into an HBCU.
Mrs. Perrine says she absolutely loves her job. She loves being here and seeing the way her people (black people) dance, take in music, and party. “It’s gratifying,” she says, “I enjoy it–it’s entertaining.” What she doesn’t enjoy, is seeing her students show ill-mannered behaviors usually seen on the street, since this a campus that is supposed to showcase “Black Excellence.” Acts like unnecessary fighting and sagging of the pants, are acts that stem from prison. Mrs. Perrine doesn’t understand why her college students replicate that same kind of behavior on campus. According to her, there isn’t much she would change but, “I would really love if we bring… the best of our culture… and leave some of that other stuff alone… that’s what I would change.”
HBCU’s will always hold great history. They will also hold a big reputation, from how the parties are, to Greek life, and even the success through classes taken by students. HBCU’s have a different vibe from other universities, which is what makes them so unique and enjoyable for both the students and professors. The pride that comes from attending an HBCU is formed through overcoming the challenges students face throughout their college careers.
Edited by Elijah Miles