Malik Barnes '23

Wabash is said to be home for all regardless of race, cultural background, sexuality, and socio-economic status. Claiming to be home for these students is one thing, however cultivating a home for all is entirely another. Historically most minorities have not had the best experience in comparison to their white brothers here at Wabash. Many of them commonly feeling excluded, feeling forced to assimilate, and forced to adopt the predominate culture that is not their own, often feeling as if it is necessary for them to be accepted in the same community that claims to accept them as they are.

One of the most fascinating elements of the Wabash community by far, is its emphasis on student leadership. Considering a system that has proven itself time after time as effective, it’s understandable that one would be hesitant to take a more critical look at the system’s shortcomings.

In regard to cultivating a home for all, the student-led system has been faced with a challenge it certainly needs assistance in overcoming. How can a white student who has had few, if any interaction with someone of a different race or culture lead their peers into a better understanding of these concepts.

Wabash is still a predominantly white institution; from the perspective of a white student it could be quite easy to never even consider that the minorities experience may be different from anyone else’s. But the reality is, the experience of most minorities on this campus is different than their white counterparts. Wabash prides itself on taking more steps to increase the number of minorities enrolled in the college. However, cultivating a home for them is a different challenge.

The college administration must take more action to intentionally cultivate a home for all. What does that look like? It could look like a curriculum, that introduces, and further cultivates an understanding of topics regarding minorities and the reality they face in this nation, and even further what they face in the Crawfordsville community. In fact, I am arguing that to not educate its predominantly white student body about these matters is a greater disservice with even more detrimental implications.

This leads me to another amazing fact about Wabash. Our alumni leave little ol’ Crawfordsville and go on to all parts of the globe, serving as important decision makers in their respective industries. In no shape or fashion should a student graduate from Wabash, destined to be a world class leader and not have the understanding or skills needed to dismantle the oppressive systems they may unknowingly feed into.

Many of my Wabash brothers, across all races and cultures, have come forward acknowledging their lack of understanding and are more than passionate to begin figuring out where we start on cultivating Wabash and the nation as truly a home for all.

This turns me to the next challenge that us as students are facing. It is not the minorities’ role to be the teacher of these realities; in fact, you would be wrong to assume that every minority understands the realities themselves. We live in the United States of America, and unfortunately in this case we have not been the best at treating minorities the same as their white counterparts. While this is a national issue that nearly every institution in the country has been faced with, Wabash can lead the way.

Brothers now is our time to show the world who we are, and what we are about. We are the most critical thinkers, the most responsible men, the most effective leaders, and we live by example in living humanely. Nearly every college campus in Indiana is struggling to create a home for all.

Let us, as Wabash, retake our place as leading the state, and the nation when it comes to demonstrating how to be a home for all. We are more than ready to join hand in hand with the Wabash administration to come up with an effective plan on how we can make sure that every brother regardless of race, cultural background, sexuality, and socio-economic status can develop the same sense of home, here at Wabash college for the many generations to come.