The Brown Bag Lunch Discussion, held on Wednesday, Sept. 18, was a hit. Students, teachers and other faculty members filled the room. All were excited to hear Tara Dale Sanders’s presentation on her Master’s thesis research. The topic of the presentation was “In Their Own Voices: The First Year Experience Of African American Students: A Study At California State University, Chico.”
Racial prejudice is an issue that has been around for many generations, and unfortunately still thriving even today. Sanders stated that as she did her research at Chico University, the students were predominantly white with only 79 black students enrolled.
Subtopics were introduced such as, students feeling the need to change their appearance to avoid fitting stereotypes. A majority of the students Sanders interviewed had experienced some form of racism on campus or in the dorms.
The students who participated in the study expressed that they had difficulty meeting new people. They wanted friends who could identify with them, so they made their own “families” with peers who shared the same struggles. Some students found mentors in leadership roles that kept them motivated and gave them advice of how to disregard the ignorance.
Students are generally under pressure trying to meet deadlines and do the best they can, but these students put even more pressure on themselves so they can succeed and prove people wrong about racial stereotypes.
The discussion after Sanders’s presentation was thought provoking, causing students and staff to raise their hands, eager to ask more questions.
Sanders sparked motivation and hope in several students. Alton M. was inspired, stating, “I was honestly touched by this presentation. Tara gave us a clear picture of what is out there; I believe we should always keep an open mind. There will always be some sort of prejudice. I learned a lot from this presentation, I will never be able to think the same again.”
Lauren D. was equally motivated, saying, “It was an enlightening experience because it gave me a different perspective on how other minorities are under pressure in society. It’s motivating to see someone in power like Tara present this topic, it makes me think differently.”
Sanders’s research and experiences have taught students and staff a lesson that can’t be found in a class. This was a moving experience that showed a different perspective that people may have never thought of. The feeling of unity filled the room after the presentation. No matter what race or background we all have something in common, the ability to love.