The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

SSU students express a lack of representation

As of 2020, Sonoma State University is the fifth predominantly white institution among all California public universities, according to the UC and CSU 2020 enrollment dashboard.

When you visit our school’s website, you may notice the banner at the top of the page that says “Latinx Heritage Month”. If you click on the banner, you will be redirected to a page with events for Latinx Heritage Month along with links to past cultural and identity celebrations at SSU. 

The school’s website makes it clear that representation matters here on campus and that SSU is proud of its diversity. However, do minority students at SSU feel properly represented and included on campus?

Here are the demographics at Sonoma State. As of fall 2021, 42% of students are white and 38% of students identify as Latin American. Only 2% of students identify as African American, 5% Asian, and less than 1% Indigenous American, according to the SSU website. 

Many students of color feel they are not represented on campus. And when they do receive representation, they are tokenized. 

“I don’t feel represented here on campus, besides the organizations like MSFC and the HUB,” said Vianca Hinojosa, who just entered her second year at SSU studying Chicano and Latino studies. 

Alice Tikoibau, fourth year sociology major, expressed that there are occasions when she feels represented, but it’s only when she seeks out organizations that are explicitly diverse such as the HUB or the Women of Color Collective. 

“Other times, it feels isolating because there is a lack of diversity within the university” as a whole, said Tikoibau.

Students of color feel the most represented and included when they actively seek out organizations on campus that are focused around diversity. These organizations include Being Latinx, Black Student Union, Asian American Pacific Islander support group, multicultural sororities and fraternities, the office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, the HUB, etc. 

While it is great that students of color have representation on campus through these organizations, representation and inclusion should be in all areas of campus life, not solely through multicultural organizations. When representation is negated only to multicultural organizations it leads to students of color feeling marginalized on campus. Multicultural organizations are often overshadowed by other campus organizations.  

One student, who’s identity will remain anonymous, expressed their opinions about Seawolf Living. 

“Personally the only place I don’t feel represented is Seawolf Living. I love them but I don’t see enough Black people on that page,” said the student. 

The student stated that when Seawolf Living does include Black students on their platform, they are often tokenized. An example of tokenism at SSU is using a random picture of a group of students of color to promote a multicultural event without double checking the identities of the students in the photo.

Representation can’t be achieved on a surface level. Nor can it be achieved by hiring a few students of color in non-multicultural organizations on campus. Students of color should be represented in all student organizations. 

“Changes I would like to see are more uplifting in multicultural sororities and fraternities,” said the anonymous student. “It wasn’t until now (people of color) started being put more on social media. Before it felt like the Panhellenics were at the forefront during my freshman year, but I do appreciate the change that is happening now.”. 

More representation of students of color is needed in non-multicultural organizations on campus. At SSU we must be more mindful of how we are celebrating diversity.

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