Miami University of Ohio
BackgroundInterview Date:March 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Lesbian
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public school in Columbus, OH with a graduating class of about 550 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Major: Black World Studies
Minor: Political Science
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in student government, I’m in Miami University Troublemakers, Government Relations Network Living Learning Community, Scholar Leaders Living Learning Community, Summer Orientation Undergraduate Leader, I sing in an acapella group and I used to be a student-athlete.
Have any of your extracurricular activities had a particularly big impact on your experience?
All of them have had very big impacts in different ways. I’ve been involved with student government since my freshman year. I had a phenomenal year that year where I got to know administrative people on a deeper level and work on trying to solve issues at Miami when it comes sexual assault, sexual health, and diversity inclusion. This year I’ve had more of a leadership position and have been involved with passing two pieces of legislation. Personally, I like to get to know people so I’ve joined other clubs to get to know more people on campus.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
The typical course is a lot of papers and a lot of interpersonal work. Talking to people in class is a huge thing. It’s not a very big major at Miami, so it’s a lot of talking with people in the department community in class and outside of class. There are research papers and I’m starting a research opportunity next fall. What I like is that the major is really what you make of it. You can take a lot of different classes as long as they meet the requirements.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
They have really great professors that are very knowledgeable. The professors I had last semester specifically seemed more non-traditional than professors I’ve had in other departments. They’re very interactive. In general, the Black World Studies classes are very active. You watch a lot of videos, you have a lot of class discussions, you will have presentations that keep you engaged with the material.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
From my experience, you’re on your own in a sense. It’s not competitive between people because it’s a very small major, but it can be competitive in that you have to know very early on what you want to do with the major because it’s such a broad topic. You can have lots of different focuses, like, I’m focusing on Black Feminist Studies, and you have to make the most out of it. It’s not like you’re going to be pushed by other people because other people are doing different things than you within the major, so you have to push yourself and be active within the major.
Do you feel people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Yes, I think so. From the classes I’ve taken, I think people are very open to different types of processes and expanding their thought processes. In a Black World Studies class I took last semester, there were more White students than there were students of color, so a lot of the students were open to understanding what Black students go through and why they have a certain thought process, which was really exciting to me because I could have a more in-depth conversation with people who don’t identify as being Black. So, yes, within the classes I’ve taken, I think that people are most definitely accepting of and interested in different areas of thought. I also think people in the Black World Studies major are more inclined to join organizations that are outside of their identity group and bring it back around to how it translates to being a Black World Studies major.
How was transitioning academically as a first-generation student? Were there any resources that helped you adapt?
As a first-generation student, it was somewhat hard because my parents did not understand what was going on and I didn’t understand what was going on. But, I really looked up to a lot of the upperclassmen who I made friends with who knew the system more than I did. There are offices at Miami that you can go to, like the career center and Office of Diversity Affairs because there are a lot of upperclassmen there who can help you understand what’s going on. For me, the support through the athletic community helped a lot with picking classes. I think transitions to college vary on a person to person basis, but for me, it was hard at first and then I got a hang of it.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice so far?
I started as a Political Science major to begin with and then I picked up an International Studies with a concentration in African Studies major. I dropped International Studies and then took an intro-level course for Black World Studies and absolutely loved it and am continuing with it.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Hahne Hall on North Quad
Sophomore: Stoddard Hall on the Academic Quad
They’re two completely different worlds. Hahne was more up to date where you have common areas on all three floors. I thought it was nice because you have much more of a community on the floor you’re living on because the common areas were in the center of the floor. Stoddard was much smaller and the floors are divided by gender. There is a sense of community here but it isn’t as close as Hahne.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve experienced a good level of safety. I personally feel safe because of the people I surround myself with, but I do know that there are some situations where Black students don’t feel as safe on campus because of racist incidents happening on campus can make students feel unsafe or unwelcome here. I personally feel safe because I know about the resources I can turn towards if I’m in need of help and I don’t put myself in unsafe situations. [See Cincinatti.com article, “Racist acts at Miami University fuel new black student movement.”]
Pros and cons of being located in Oxford, OH?
Pros: (1) You get to escape the busy life of living in a city.
(2) I feel there’s a much more connected community because everyone’s in one place rather than being spread out.
(3) The area is pretty and scenic.
Cons: (1) There isn’t much to do in Oxford so that leads to there being an intense drinking culture here at Miami that needs to be solved. Because we’re in the middle of nowhere, that affects what students can do because not everybody has a vehicle to get them out of Oxford.
(2) There’s a Miami Bubble. You tend to forget or overlook things that are happening outside of Oxford.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in?
If you’re not a person who likes to drink, there are programming and events you can go to. MAP has events like ice skating or seeing a movie on the weekend nights. If you do like to drink, there are 18+ bars. I do a mixture of everything. Tonight, I’m going to a skate and hip-hop event and then tomorrow I have an acapella concert then acapella group is going out to a bar to celebrate the hard work we put in. It really depends on what I’m feeling. I like that I know if I don’t feel like going out I can go to a MAP event or I can just sit around with my friends. I also sometimes go to Cincinnati and go bowling and get dinner.
What have been some of your favorite times at Miami?
I’m personally not a big bar person, but I do really like going to house parties at my friends’ houses because you’re in a more concentrated space and you’re around more people that you know rather than random strangers. When it interests me, there are some cool MAP events, like last semester I saw Black Panther.
How has being LGBT influenced your nightlife? Is there a strong LGBT nightlife scene?
The Queer nightlife scene is not big. We have drag shows at Bar 1868 but that’s pretty much it. The Queer culture is there but not huge, it’s a lot smaller than other identity groups.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met them through the MADE@Miami program, which is a pre-semester program that students can apply for and go to. It’s a good way to meet other incoming first-years who are minorities at Miami. I met my best friends who I am still very close with today at the program.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
The one that everyone sees is the drinking culture – people drink a lot here. The percentage of people who binge drink is not as big as you’d think when compared to the number of people who casually drink that’s not so much scene. I think that reputation can be overblown. For me, my friends and I don’t participate in the binge drinking culture because we know it’s unhealthy. I do think that there is a culture of accountability and a large proportion of students who don’t drink. Miami has the MAP events for students to have an alternative on the weekends and also residence halls have events that students can participate in. There are also students who go to the bars Uptown who have safe drinking habits.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
With Black culture, there is a different culture than the culture of the White students. The Black students have our own spaces to party and do stuff like that. I’ve grown up going to primarily White schools so I don’t have a very strong connection to the Black community here. They have their own house parties and off-campus parties they go to. There are also a couple of bars that Black students like to go to because there they have their own space. With Queer culture, the nightlife or social life within that is not very prominent. It’s intermingled with house parties and the bar scene.
How would you describe the Black community on campus? How strong is it?
I think the Black community is very strong. It’s a lot more tight-knit than other communities if you’re heavily involved in it because we’re not a very big community in Miami. I wouldn’t say everyone knows everyone, but everyone kind of knows everyone. Like, you know their name but you might not know them as a person. A huge proportion of the Black community is very active in activism and try to create change at Miami. It’s very fun and I’ll go to meetings of different clubs that are centered on being Black and accepting your Blackness. [About 3.5% of the undergraduate population in Black.]
How would you describe the Queer community on campus? How strong is it?
With my friends, we’re pretty strong and we look out for each other. I think it really depends on who you associate yourself with and that will determine how you see the Queer community. For me, I don’t see it as much because I’ve only been on campus for two years and I don’t see it as connected as I would love it to be.
How do you like the size of Miami in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How has that affected your experience? [Miami has about 17,350 students.]
I like that it’s still a big campus where you still don’t know anyone, but if you have different social circles it can feel close-knit. I’m very involved on campus so I know a lot of people and I know who I can turn to, but also, I can walk into a space where I don’t know anyone. That’s the beauty of a mid-sized university.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I went to the career office to have them look at my resume. I didn’t use their advice that much because I just asked my friends in the Farmer Business School because they really focus on professional development.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how responsive and helpful have they been?
Yes, I do use financial aid. I’ve had ups and downs with the financial aid office. When you have complicated situations, they’re really good with helping you understand your financial aid and why you got a particular scholarship. I just wish the financial aid website was better with giving information instead of having to call them.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Miami before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew about the ways I could get involved in different colleges or different areas that are not my own. I always wanted to be involved in the business school and gain those skills but not necessarily be in the business school, so I learned this year that I could be part of the business school’s organizations but not be in the business school. I’m going to join some of those because I think it’s really important to have those skills outside of college. In general, I wish I knew that you could be involved in anything you want and formulate a way in which it ties back to your major and what you want to do.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I love going to sporting events. I love going to hockey games. I never watched hockey before college, but last year I went to my first hockey game and loved it because the energy of the student body is really fun. If you want to experience the natural energy and sense of belonging of the students, go to the hockey games.
Reasons to attend Miami (OH):
1) I love the aesthetic of the campus. It reminds me of your typical college town but there are also modernized buildings like the business school and engineering building.
2) There’s a focus on undergraduate education. I’ve had a lot of one-on-one experience with professors. Being a minority, it’s nice to let the professor understand why you have a certain mindset or approach to things. I talk to my Black World Studies advisor on a weekly basis, and most of the time I’m just talking about my life.
3) I love the minority culture here. We all are going through the struggle of not being represented, so we all understand what it’s like to walk around and not have people look like you. But, when you find someone who does, you relate on a deeper level. [About 11% of students at Miami are minorities.]
4) I really like the libraries and the Office of Diversity Affairs are great to take a moment for yourself and do homework.
5) It’s a good place to take a step back. I may hate going through the cornfields on my way to Miami, but it’s also relieving to go through the cornfields because it’s a space where you can be independent and escape the busy city life and busy home life. We may be in the middle of nowhere, but there’s a reason for that.
Reasons to not attend Miami (OH):
We get a bad reputation for having a strong drinking culture and being in the middle of nowhere, but I think it’s so much more than that.