Augustana promises a campus of diversity to its students, but I don’t think the campus understands what promoting diversity truly entails.
I believe that to truly understand a person, one needs to know their culture.
However, I think Augustana forgets a population and history that exists right under its nose—Native American students.
The population of Native American students is very low at Augie with only eight self-identified Native students.
I am one of those students on campus, and I can say that the representation for Native American students is almost nonexistent. I am a junior, and have yet to see an acknowledgement during Native American Heritage Month or Native American Day.
Other campuses in the midwest celebrate Native American culture by having pow-wows, seminars and celebrating their Native students, especially during these times. This lack of representation creates a disconnect between Augie and Native students, which may be a contributing factor to low Native numbers in the student population.
Augustana promises a sense of community for students. Personally, I have community at Augie. That’s one of the things I love about this school.
However, underrepresented students need their own sense of community on campus. I love the community that I’m around, but sometimes it feels as though I’m alone or isolated. A lot of Native Americans grow up in tight communities and create close communities in urban areas. Being away from family and extended kinship can make Native students feel outcasted or like they have no one relatable around them.
Augustana can make underrepresented groups feel more included with more student unions on campus, such as a Native American Student Union.
The lack of representation on campus is augmented, as no organizations support the culture. A Native American Student Union would be beneficial for both Native and non-Native students.
Many studnets know little about Native people and culture. When I first came to Augie, I met people that had never met a Native person before, and they assumed a lot of stereotypes about my family and me. They weren’t trying to offend me, but they were ill-informed about the people who live around this area.
A Native American Student Union would create opportunities for native students to inform and share our culture. Many students and staff are unaware of the diversity of native culture, we come from different nations with different customs. There could be campus celebrations and events for Native American Day and Native American Month promoted by the association. Additionally, we could host seminars about the different cultures for those who are interested in learning about it.
Personally, I am tired of feeling like Native American students are seen as an afterthought at Augustana.
I can’t speak for every Native student on this campus, but I want to be able to give a voice to those who might feel the same way. I want other Native students to know they aren’t alone. There are things that need to be done here, and we should raise awareness of Native students at Augustana to enrich the entire campus.
November has flown by, meaning Native American Heritage month is almost over, and Augustana has done nothing for it. Native American students are here at Augie and they should not be forgotten.