Sunday, July 19, 2015

Despite racial imbalance, Ohio University is deemed "welcoming"

By Jade Colon, Juliana Discher and Destiny Gooslin

Ohio University is a predominantly white college, but Tiffany Bey, a junior from Cincinnati, feels as if the school is accepting of cultural and racial differences.

“I think Athens, as a whole, is diverse,” Bey said. “There are a lot of people from different backgrounds.”

Despite the presence of diversity, racism and prejudice aren’t completely eradicated on campus, she said.

“I’ve experienced some racial situations,” said Bey, who’s African American. “That’s everywhere though — not just here. There is just that small handful of people that don’t accept us. The institution as a whole has been welcoming.”

But racism isn’t the only “ism” that students here face. Sexism and openness to sexual orientation are two other issues to consider on campus. Sarah Tucker Jenkins, program coordinator for the Women’s Center, creates events to promote acceptance of people of all backgrounds.

“Last year I created a menstruation party to focus on getting rid of some of the stigma surrounding menstruation,” Jenkins said. “I did a series for ‘Love your Body’ day.”

Given OU’s party reputation and high presence of alcohol in the campus community, Jenkins said women’s safety is a concern.

“Drinking doesn’t cause rape, but it exacerbates the complications around the reasons behind why rape happens,” she said. “A lot of people use (drinking alcohol) as an excuse. We have a lot of issues with women not being respected bodily — street harassment.”

Jenkins said Ohio University wants to be a welcoming campus.

“We have a strong basis of diversity education that we can build upon,” she said. “Just because there is a Women’s Center doesn’t mean you need to not worry about sexism. We’re a resource that they need to be utilizing so they can fight that fight.”

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