Black at Augustana
Now more than ever, it's important for everyone to understand the value and impact that Black people have on our communities all over the world. At Augustana, we recognize that our university wouldn't be the place it is without Black students. We want to showcase these exceptional students and hear their voices so that we can work together to foster positivity and create awareness of the experiences of our systemically non-dominant students on campus.
Sul Dibba, Class of 2017, AU admissions counselor
Being Black at Augustana was a true experience. Although I grew up in Sioux Falls, being on campus felt like a whole other world. Being the first in my family to go to college was a lot of pressure and going to a predominantly white school, it was difficult trying to find my place. I often contemplated transferring due to feeling alone. During my time at Augustana I gravitated towards international students and other students of color because they had the same underlying experiences for the most part.
As my time at Augie continued, I realized that faculty and staff were doing everything in their power to make sure that students of all backgrounds felt welcome. They also had a willingness to learn about their students just as much. I began to find myself and my place and learned to use my voice confidently.
Now as a Black administrator, I want to be a positive representation to all students but specifically Black students and students of color. I know what it feels like thinking you’re on an island and feeling out of place. As an admissions counselor, I want to be an ally, an advocate and ultimately someone students can rely on and befriend. I want to support students in their endeavors and show them that they are important and can do great things. Also I want to continue and contribute to the initiatives Augustana has put in motion for a more diverse and inclusive campus.
Tatiana Chance, Class of 2023
Being Black at Augie is difficult. Being a Black woman at Augie can be even more difficult. Although I was born in New York, I grew up in South Dakota and Minnesota, both predominantly white areas. I didn't quite fit in because I was treated differently, and I was different. I had some of my closest friends tell me that I didn’t act Black, when what they were really trying to say is that I’m not ghetto.
I want to educate people to know that some of the smartest people are Black. I want people to learn about Black culture and take away the fear of the unknown. The culture of inclusivity that Augustana promotes is unmatched, and I am so proud to be a Viking. Being a Viking has afforded me the opportunity to serve on many committees and allows me to use my voice as an ambassador to help break racial lines and divisions. Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and I live every second of every day by that quote.
During my freshman year at Augie, I struggled to feel at home. It was such a change coming from a majority-black society to now having to integrate into predominantly white spaces. It wasn’t until the Black Student Union was created that I started to feel a small sense of community, even with just the handful of Black students that were a part of it. The time I spent with the BSU in conversation with people who looked like me and shared a few of the same experiences that I did at Augie initiated a process that slowly allowed me to regain the confidence I had lost when I first came to Augie.
In my sophomore year, I became International Senator in the Augustana Student Association and, with the help of other senators, was able to pass an amendment that allowed systemically non-dominant (Jenkins, 2018) groups to have voting seats in the Senate. This was the first time since I had started at Augie that I felt like maybe I was not just a guest on this campus and that I could take up space, use my voice, and be heard and seen as much as my white peers. There is still so much work to be done before I can say with conviction that this campus is truly accepting of us all, but I want to believe that we are taking steps closer to that goal.
As a Black student at Augustana I’ve had my fair share of positive experiences. From joining the Black Student Union (BSU), to more recently being able to educate my peers on issues of this country and stress the importance of change and reform. BSU has given me a sense of acceptance in the school outside of my involvement with sports. The impact of the opportunities and continued support provided by Augustana give me the motivation to be the next Black man to change the world. Experiences like the passing of Augustana Student Association's new diversity amendment will continue to give us Black students the incentive to keep making change not only in the school, but also in our ever-so-oppressive society. As time continues past the recognition of the racism and inequality still present among the general public, I look forward to seeing people change and understand the true meaning of BLACK LIVES MATTER.
Being Black at Augustana is filled with confusion and self-discovery. It includes treating many Black students, who come from a distinctive cultural background, as your sister and brother. The support and love Black students have for one another is truly inspiring and a profound gift.
Although Augustana is a predominantly white institution, the black community at Augustana is strongly connected and supportive of one another. The mentorship I receive from my Black Augustana friends is a source to my profound passion for justice, education, and music.
Like our world, Augustana is imperfect. Unlike our world, Augustana has policies to ensure BLACK STUDENT LIVES MATTER and their rights are protected. Students and faculty continue to cooperate to perfect Augustana and to ensure BLACK STUDENT LIVES MATTER. At Augustana, this is not a moment, but a movement!
Being a black student at Augustana University is not easy. Being in a place where most of the people on campus don’t look like you is challenging. But being Black at Augustana has given me opportunities to use my voice, build my platform, and make a change.
I am an ambassador for the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion office. I am a senator for the Augustana Student Association. I am the voice for my sophomore class and have many ideas to bring to the table.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so, we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”
At Augustana University, I will be that change and I will embrace my Blackness while doing so.
Jenkins, D. (2018). A Critical Lens to Rethinking Power, Privilege and Inequity Language: “Systemically Dominant” and “Systemically Non-Dominant.” Share the Flame LLC: Camas, WA.