The following is reposted unedited from CJ Donald, who authors a student blog for the College
First of all, thanks for asking this question.
Yes, I have felt welcomed at Centre. I didn’t visit any of the colleges to which I applied (except for the college in my hometown), so the immediate warmth I felt from the time I stepped on campus was remarkably refreshing and surprising. People here are nice. Not just on campus, but in the community as well. No matter where I go in Danville, I feel just as welcomed. As you stated, the campus is not very diverse and the town is less so, therefore you can imagine some of the naïveté that is faced with regards to differences in lifestyle and culture. I have never felt as if someone was unwelcoming because of my race.
I maintain that those differences are present no matter what school you go to. Even if you were to attend a school that was more diverse (or had a population that resonated more with your respective cultural group), there would still be misconceptions and ignorance between groups of people. Everyone is different. The only way people will ever learn how to live together is if we experience those awkward moments and go through those growing pains. I won’t tell you that I haven’t experienced frustration and haven’t been stereotyped because of my race or where I’m from, but those frustrations and stereotypes are no different than those I experience because I don’t drink and because I listen to Sade. My point is, stereotypes and prejudices are everywhere, but I have never felt that my experiences as a student (or as a person) have been slighted because I am black. If anything, I have been granted the opportunity to show another side to the black man. I enjoy going to class, playing Scrabble, and reading poetry. I dress extremely well, I love women, and I love God. I love my little brother and sister and I like watching baseball. I have been able to show the best that black men have to offer. Coming to a predominantly white college has not diminished who I am; I honestly believe Centre brings the best out of every student.
When you ask about forced assimilation, I think it depends on the strength and self-confidence of each person, without respect to race. If a person is emotionally and mentally weak, then no matter what race they are or what college they attend, they will easily be persuaded by those around them. Assimilation is simply another word to relate the feelings of peer-pressure. If you allow someone else to change who you are, that is assimilation, no matter your skin color. I feel that I am a strong person and I have, since I can remember, refused to be anything other than who I am. So as far as feeling forced to assimilate? Never.
Email me if you’d like to talk more.