Racing for seats


Savon Gray is a contributing columnist for the Kentucky Kernel.

Savon Gray

It is about that time of the semester where everyone finds his or her unassigned-assigned seat. This unspoken rule was one of the first I learned at UK.

On the first day of classes each year, I walk in and quickly scan the room for another student of color. Any color will do: light brown, dark brown, etc.

When I see a minority student in class, my heart fills with joy as I make my way to them to start the process of assigning myself an unassigned seat.

Am I wrong for doing this? I don’t think so.

It is human nature to want to surround yourself with people who look like you, have similar cultures and live similar lifestyles.

When I am unable to find someone of a similar skin tone, I will just randomly choose a seat. Perhaps I am early, and when my fellow melanin-filled peers enter the room, they will know the same unspoken rule as me and assign themselves the seat next to mine.

In every large class I take, I see the same trend: a sea of white students, and a few clusters of minority students. I see black students sitting with black students, Middle-Eastern students sitting with Middle-Eastern students, Asian students sitting with Asian students, and white students filling up the rest of the seats.

UK’s  Diversity Plan states, “The University is committed to diversity as a vital characteristic of an optimal education and workplace,” and I do not disagree.

I believe the university and President Capilouto are working hard toward creating a more inclusive campus with the new strategic plan. However, it is the people who study and work on the campus who need to work harder toward creating a more inclusive campus, and I am one of the people who needs reform.

It seems counterproductive to want a more inclusive campus only to keep separating us into groups. We are all guilty of this. We need to change our first weeks of school habits.

The unassigned-assigned seat rule doesn’t need to change, but the way we assign ourselves these seats does. Assign yourself a seat next to someone who doesn’t look like you and try to get to know that person.

The university has a strategic plan to promote inclusiveness, and I believe it is time for its students to start on that same path.

Savon Gray is a journalism sophomore.

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