life beyond the well…

Oh Really: White Students Drawn to Black Colleges


I read this article this morning, and I’m not too sure what I think about it. I’ll say the opening shocked me:

Michael Roberts has done more than study finance at historically black Benedict College. He’s played football for the college, joined a fraternity and proposed to his girlfriend.

Pretty typical, except that Roberts is one of the few whites who attend one of the nation’s traditionally black colleges.

It’s as if one would expect that an experience at an HBCU wouldn’t be “typical”. This then leads us to ask questions such as “What does typical mean?” and “What is the typical college experience?”

But I’m digressing. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The first of what are now called historically black colleges and universities was Cheyney University in Pennsylvania, which was founded in 1837 so that blacks — barred from attending many traditional schools — could get advanced educations. Since then, more than 100 such institutions have been established in the U.S. and about 285,000 students attend the schools each year.

Lawsuits have forced many of the schools — about half of them are public — to diversify their student bodies, Baskerville said. In the 2005-06 school year, nearly 10 percent of their students were white, according to her association’s data.

Scholarships, new programs and recruitment have attracted dozens of whites to schools such as South Carolina State University, where they account for around 4 percent of the student body, said university spokeswoman Erica Prioleau. The school has a minority affairs office for white students, similar to those found for non-white students at traditionally white schools.

Part of me feels that this is fabulous for HBCUs, especially when there’s the idea that they are less rigorous than a PWU/PWI (predominantly white university/predominantly white institution). I also think that it’s a good experience for white students; however, I feel that the white students who would typically go to an HBCU are already comfortable with African Americans ANYWAY.

Yet and still, there’s another part of me that is wondering why can’t black people just have anything to themselves. And I find that even more interesting as a graduate of two PWUs. Many of my family members and some of my friends have gone to HBCUs, and they have let it be known that the experiences that I’ve had at UNC and UGA don’t even come close to comparing to the times they’ve had at NC A&T, NCCU, and Howard (to name a few).

I wish I could track this and see how it develops over time…


Author: erin.almond

God-chaser. NC native, now planted in Jacksonville, FL. Happily married to a handsome church-planting pastor. I am easily excited by Jesus, education, cupcakes, Moleskine notebooks, and Pepsi. Overwhelmed by God's amazing grace, undeserving of His love and mercy.

2 thoughts on “Oh Really: White Students Drawn to Black Colleges

  1. I don’t really have a problem with the whole “typical” statement. I don’t think it’s saying that those things are typical at an HBCU, but aren’t typical for a white person at an HBCU.

    In the end, as long as people get an education I don’t think it really matters.

    For every great experience that people who went to HBCU’s say they had, I think people who went to PWU’s have as well.

    It’s all a balance and it all works out in the end.

  2. I agree with Rell. One, it IS atypical for a white person to go to a HBCU. And it is DEFINITELY out of the norm for a dude to play football for them, pledge a frat and find a woman he wants to marry there (who I assume is black).

    I think they are also saying – perhaps unintentionally – that doing all of these things might be atypical for a black person at a PWI – which I think in many ways could be argued as true.

    I have no problem with whites at HBCUs. The truth is that HBCUs need all the help they can. Howard’s nursing program either did or almost went unaccredited this year. HOWARD of all places?! And Morris Brown – part of the much exalted AUC – is still closed over something relatively small like $10 mill. These schools need help from SOMEBODY.

    I know I’ma get cursed out for this, but I don’t think you missed what you or your relatives think you missed, Erin. If they are older than you, their HBCU experience was definitely different from the current HBCU experience. Except for a few exceptions – and I’m STILL lukewarm about those, I think you made the best choice.

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