An Interview On
Denison University

Background

Interview Date:July 2018

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Black
Sexual Orientation: Homosexual
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: Public school in Southern California and I graduated with almost 1,000 kids. It was a very new high school, so, when it first opened, there wasn’t really a culture of going to college. It took them a couple of years to get people going to college. The resources we had didn’t expand for the people who didn’t want to go to those 2 or 3 schools, so for my instance and a few of my other friends who wanted to go away, we had to do a lot of stuff on our own because we didn’t have the resources. Our counselors wanted us to go to those schools that everybody else was going to. I was one of seven or eight people who went out of state.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Psychology
Minor: Economics
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a student-athlete, I’m part of an organization called DIG, which stands for the Denison Diversity and Inclusion Athlete Advisory Group. It’s basically where we talk about diversity and inclusion things and ways to make it better for everybody at Denison.

What impact has DIG had on your experience?
It’s been eye-opening coming from my background. In Southern California, there’s a little bit of everything, so it’s natural to interact with different races and different ethnicities and types of people. Even at my high school, nobody cared if somebody was black or white, everybody hung out with everybody.

Do you feel like that doesn’t exist at Denison?
I think it’s gotten a lot better because the school really does push diversity and inclusion and getting out of your comfort zone. Denison’s a private liberal arts school, so they have that stereotype of rich, white, preppy people. When I stepped on campus I saw that, but then again, I also saw the whole diversity and inclusion part that they were pushing. [About 23% of students are domestic students of color.]

Being in DIG has made me realize how much better it is at Denison and just the things the club has done has made it so much better at Denison. People have been going out a lot more of their comfort zone, people are discussing a lot of the issues we have at Denison, and people are more aware and more comfortable trying to fix them. I am Black and I and gay, so being accepted at Denison is great. I’ve never run into any problems or anything like that. I’ve made great connections with everybody, whether it’s a white person, a black person, or an international student, and I think that shows how far Denison has come.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
The workload is a lot. Of course, a lot of reading, but there’s really not a lot of busy work homework, it’s more reading and studying and a writing assignment here or there or answer questions that make you understand the reading more or look at it a different way.

All Denison departments [rarely] do multiple choice tests, all questions are free response. It makes it harder because you don’t have the answer right in front of you, but it can be helpful because you can go into depth about what you think the answer is, or you can get partial credit if you don’t get it totally right or totally wrong.

Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
Being a major in Psychology is a lot of fun because they give you some wiggle room to explore different fields in psychology. They’re very research-based, which is really good if you want to go to grad school because you already have that background. That’s one thing that Denison’s great for, because a lot of other programs don’t allow undergrad students to do research. You take 200 level and 300 level classes that prepare you to do research, experiments, and observational studies. You also have the chance to do independent research with a professor over the summer, and you also have the opportunity to do senior research.

Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s very competitive, but also collaborative. A lot of people work with each other. You have a lot of group projects and research projects you do with other students. Participation is a part of your grade, and that helps you discuss the material, it’s huge. It makes you think about things in a different way.

Do you think people are open to different schools of thought in the classroom?
Yeah, that’s one thing that a lot of the professors push and the school pushes. They want us to be open to different opinions because all of us have an answer to everything and they may not all be the same, especially when it comes to open conversation. It helps you grow having all these different perspectives and having all these different answers to the same problems. We don’t look at one answer when it comes to stuff like that.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: I lived in Shorney Hall on West Quad with one roommate who was a teammate

Sophomore: Sawyer Hall on East Quad and I lived with another teammate

Junior: Crawford Hall in a single because I went abroad

What was your favorite living situation?
I loved being roommates with my teammate. It was fun because we were always hanging out and we had the same group of friends. It’s fun to have a roommate. You learn more about yourself and how you are with living with somebody.

How was the transition from Southern California to Granville, Ohio?
It’s a change because I think the majority of the students are from the East Coast and the Midwest. There are actually a lot of Californians which was shocking to me. The environments are very different, the people are very different, the weather is literally a 180. It’s been very different, but I enjoyed it. I think change is good. I thought I needed a change after I graduated high school and now I love it. I love the fall, that’s my favorite season now. The people are a lot nicer in Ohio than they are in Southern California. People will come up to me and actually ask me how I am feeling, a stranger will be like “Hey, how are you?” and I’ll be like, “What? You don’t know me.” It was an eye-opener. I love it. I spent two summers in Ohio. I think everybody at Denison should spend at least one summer at Denison because it’s very different than the school year. I love Granville in the summer and just in general.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
The party life at Denison is very great. I go out almost every weekend. I go to parties at the senior apartments. Sometimes we’ll go to downtown Columbus and go to bars and clubs there too. That’s always an option because it’s only 25 minutes away. Some people do get a little tired of the senior apartments, but I mean if you want to go out, that’s where you go.

Has being an LGBT student affected your nightlife experience at all?
Not at all. In my experiences, I’ve never had an issue of getting into a party or getting kicked out of a party. Some other people who identify the same way would say that they have, but I feel like there’s more to it because a lot of people know my background and they don’t discriminate against me.

There was an incident where a guy was saying he didn’t get into a party because he was gay, and that raised a lot of issues because people knew that wasn’t true. The fraternity that didn’t let them in is very accepting, and the real reason was that the party was very crowded and he wasn’t the only one not let in. Outside there was a bunch of white people and girls that they also wouldn’t let in. I was at that party and it was so crowded they couldn’t have let him in. You will always have people like that jump to conclusions, but in my opinion, I would say that Denison is very accepting, especially in the party life.

How happy were you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m fine with the nightlife at Denison. I think the problems that I have and the students have come from the security and how inconsistent they are. They change the rules on nightlife like each year and it gets confusing for the people who are there and also the people who come in because the older people know different ways but [the new students] are taught the new way. Like, last year they changed the rules on how many people we can have in a party and how many parties per floor we can have at the senior apartments. You will always have the people who think the nightlife needs to be better, but I think it’s fine. I just think the issue the majority of students have, including myself, is the security. [In Fall 2018, Denison capped the number of people allowed in the Sunnies to 33 people due to structural damage.]

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I met my closest friends in many different ways. Most of them through being a member of [my team] and then some just at parties. Honestly, I’ve met 85% of my friends at parties. Also through classes and randomly in the dining hall or through other friends. It’s very easy to make friends at Denison because we are a small community and a close-knit community. You meet people in a lot of different ways.

How would you describe the LGBT community?
I think they integrate with everybody. Some of them have that whole cliquey thing with their own group, but that’s everywhere honestly. The majority are all over the place. We have some in acapella groups, I know a few who are in fraternities. Denison is very accepting, which I think is great and it’s great knowing that we could be accepted there.

How would you describe the student body?
There’s a little bit of everything. We have a lot of international students then a lot of people are from different places in the United States. Even from my freshman year to now, I see how much people change their opinions and open their minds. [Students come from all 50 states and 16% are international students.]

One of my friends is from Colorado, and she’s never really had a black friend, and her freshman year roommate was black. At first, she didn’t really know how to handle it. She was straight up with her roommate, she was like, “you know, I have never had a Black friend or really hung out with Black people. We had like three black kids at my high school.” Her roommate was very open to that and they hung out a lot and until this day they are inseparable, they have been roommates the past three years and going on four years. So just experiences like that are what I think makes Denison Denison.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
A little bit, mostly through [my team]. There were a couple of people who graduated and live in L.A. so I’ve used them.

How helpful has the career office been?
I have a couple of times when it came to my resume and the different options that I have when it comes to getting funding for my internship, or just general knowledge of how I get a job. They’re very great. They have open hours, which are great, and when it comes to that there are no stupid questions because some people just don’t have that knowledge. They’ll help you out from literally step one. They’re very open and accepting.

Financial Aid

Have you used the financial aid office? How accommodating have they been to your needs?
I have been there just to get my financial aid sorted out because it is very expensive. The financial aid office has been great. They’ve helped me understand my financial aid a little bit more and why I’m getting what I’m getting. They’re also good at offering more money. If you’re in a bind or if you need a little more money they give you a lot of options of what you can do. One thing that Denison is very grateful for is that, because we have very strong alumni connections, they give donations for programs like financial aid. They’re always willing to help and give you the answer you may not be looking for, but they will make sure that you are okay. [Denison meets 100% of students’ demonstrated need.]

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Denison before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew a little bit more about the student body. I wish I interacted with the student body more, just because, coming from California, I don’t go up to somebody and ask them something. I could have gotten a lot of questions I had answered if I had just gone up to somebody and was like, “Hey, I’m a prospective student. Do you mind answering a couple of questions I have?” When it comes to that, we are very open to answering questions because we want people to come to Denison. So, I wish I would’ve asked more questions to the student body.

What’s something a prospective athlete should know that we haven’t touched on?
I think all the coaches at this school are good. I know I like my coach, and speaking to other athletes I think everyone likes their coach. They’re really good mentors and people that truly care about you.

What’s something that a student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I would say just how the student body really interacts, so sporting events or random events we have like D-Day. They’re usually there just for when we go to class and maybe dinner. I feel like they don’t really see much of how the student body really interacts with one another and what we do.

Notice: Denison University is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Denison University.

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