An Interview On
University of Georgia

Background

Interview Date:January 2019

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Black
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
Graduation Year: 2020, transferred in to start the spring semester of her freshman year
High School Experience: Public school in Henry County, Georgia with a small graduating class. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Entertainment and Media Studies
Minor: Sociology
Extracurricular Activities: I’m part of the IMPACT-UGA service learning group, Toastmasters Public Speaking, a part-time member of the UGA Garden Club, I’m an international student orientation leader, Dawg Camp counselor, and I was a leader of the Student Programming Board.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
The International Student Orientation coupled with Dawg Camp, because you meet people from all across the world. I was their first representation of UGA, and for some, America. It’s kind of transcendental to contact and engage with them. I learned just as much from them as they did from me.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your Entertainment and Media Studies major?
It’s a mixture of exams and projects, but mainly projects. I had to make two short films last semester. I was part of a crew that drafted a script, edited, and then filmed. We essentially go through the whole production process. It’s a very hands-on major and revolves around getting acquainted with the field, and learning how technical it is to operate a camera while also making screenplays.

Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
The professors are very knowledgeable. They have studied the subject, but also have real industry experience. I appreciate this in terms of credibility, being taught by someone who was actually in the films we see on TV and in the movies. The expectations are high, and it’s very demanding, but that’s the nature of the field I want to get into. I would say the Entertainment and Media Program isn’t very integrated into Grady College as much as [the other majors]. It feels like a very separated college, and people seem to only talk to people within their major.

Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s very collaborative. A lot of students want it to be competitive, so it can be competitive on the students’ part, but the professors encourage collaboration.

How accessible have your professors been?
It’s very easy. It’s a matter of sending an email or going to office hours.

Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I have a love for creating stories through all mediums, so sometimes it feels like I made the right choice. Other times, the competitiveness of the students can make it seem that they don’t want to see their peers succeed, but would rather outshine the collaboration aspect of a group. I’m not sure if that’s the type of environment I want to have a career in for the rest of my life.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: After transferring my freshman fall, I lived in Brown Hall with 1 roommate and 2 suitemates.

Sophomore: Brown Hall.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I feel safe for the most part. There have been some times where I’ve been verbally harassed by males when I’m walking home at night, but it depends. I don’t experience this as much as the White females do, especially those in sororities. I feel safer in my position than some demographics on campus. There are some places I know not to walk alone in, but on campus, I don’t feel unsafe.

How was transitioning from Henry County to Athens, GA?
Athens has a prominent music scene, and the university is more liberal than where I’m from.

Pros and cons of being located in Athens, GA?
Pros:
1) I appreciate that it’s not in Atlanta. It’s the perfect mix of downtown vivacity, with lots of activities and culture to experience without the issues Atlanta has in terms of homelessness and crime.

Cons:
1) Although it’s more liberal, there are certain bars downtown my friends and I haven’t been able to get into because of our skin color. There are very racialized aspects such as our wardrobes, but the bouncers make an exception for other students with the same attire. This makes you feel unwelcome if you’re not White and in Greek life.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I’ll go downtown and to house parties with my friends. There will be activities from the movie-theater or organizations on campus. I’ll check for events and places to visit in Athens with open mic or jazz nights.

Who hosts the nightlife you participate in?
If we’re going to a party it would be my friends, or I’d go to a Greek organization.

What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
The University Union and Student Programming Board do a good job catering toward the freshman and sophomores who can’t go Downtown and don’t drink. They create events that are entertaining and informative like bringing in guest speakers. They just provide an alternative to the party life that some students don’t want.

Do you participate in the live music scene in Athens?
Yeah, I go to concerts at the Georgia Theatre. I saw Mac Demarco there. I also went jazz festival in September, and they have open mic nights downtown that I like to go t0.

How has identifying as LGBT influenced your nightlife experience?
Nothing has directly made me uncomfortable about my identity, but I’ve had [negative] experiences with other people that have openly identified. I have a transgender friend who didn’t get into a bar, so now we avoid it. In Athens, there is a bar called Church, where a lot of LGBTQ people go. There is also a gay bar a bit further from downtown. They will occasionally have drag shows or bring in speakers who are prominent Queer figures.

How happy are you with the nightlife options at Georgia?
I’m happy apart from the unfortunate fact that some bars are discriminatory of who is allowed in based on clothing. Even if you can get in, there is a negative stigma toward going to that specific venue.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I met a few of them the first week of school. I was a transfer student but was basically a freshman because I didn’t know anyone. They had events at the university that a lot of first-year students go to, so I ended up meeting them there. I’ve met some through the LGBT Resource Center at UGA, Dawg Camp, and the International Student Orientation.

How was it blending into the social environment as a transfer?
It was difficult until about October of my first semester here when I got more involved. It got easier when I saw the same people weekly or bi-weekly. From October on, it was pretty seamless because I had the opportunity to contact people through these organizations.

How would you describe the social scene?
It depends on the person. It’s can be divided, and there are Black organizations that White people don’t go to. Likewise, there are Hispanic frats that Black people won’t go to. [Social groups] are based on ethnicity and among those who share a common culture. It’s frustrating that it’s so distinct and that students navigate UGA based on their ethnicity. [The population of UGA is roughly 70% White, 8% Black, 6% Hispanic, and 10% Asian.]

How strong is the Black community on campus?
It’s strong in the sense that about [8%] of the population is Black. In a lot of ways, the Black students are unified because there aren’t a lot of us. We’ll have parties, but there’s even a divide within the community. There is a divide between the African students, and the African-American students because some are more Nigerian, or just not African-American. There has been some past tension there. There is an African-American Student Union that hosts events that most Black people will go to. There are differences based on a culture that you can’t really see unless you’re in the community.

How strong is the LGBTQ community on campus?
Not as strong as I’d like it to be. There is a resource center here, but not many people utilize it. There is a stigma that it’s exclusive and cliquey, but I have integrated nicely and didn’t agree with the stigma. I think the LGBTQ people are unified in terms of being outward with their identity.

How do you like the size of Georgia in terms of undergraduate enrollment?
I do like it. My first college was in Florida, and it was very small and private. It was a commuter school, so the campus was dead after 3 and on the weekends. Here, there are tons of people to meet and talk to, which allows me to not feel pigeonholed. I don’t feel anxious if I walk around, but it’s good if I don’t want to see someone because I could go weeks without seeing them. [There are 28,848 undergraduate students.]

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I can’t speak on it because I haven’t made an effort to apply for internships.

What have you used the career office for? How helpful were they?
I used it to gather information and resources for the students in the International Student Organization. I’ve also used it to perfect my resume. They have helped me identify places I could look for internships or career options.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Georgia before entering as a freshman?
I would get involved in a lot of communities. This has made my experience much more meaningful. I also expected the university to be a little more receptive to people who are different. It really depends on who you ask, because some say it’s receptive, and others think they don’t do enough. This has not ruined my experience and I’ve adjusted accordingly.

What is something a prospective Black or LGBTQ student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
I think that just because you’ve experienced adversity, you shouldn’t hang up your coat on Athens or UGA in general. Not to be pessimistic, but I doubt there is the perfect place that everyone will feel accepted by everyone. It’s about putting in the effort and finding a community. Find your own space and don’t feel pressured to do things just because the other Black students are doing it.

Reasons to attend Georgia:
1) It really gives you a view of how the working world works. Even with the lack of diversity here, I feel that I’m better equipped knowing how America is structured.
2) There are so many ways to get involved and figure out what you like, and what you don’t like, both in your studies and your identity.
3) You can create your own club if you want. UGA listens to the students and how they want to be represented on campus.
4) There are a lot of prominent people on campus that care about my opinion. Being Queer, Black, and a woman, I appreciate that UGA tries to put an effort in, even if it’s not always the best.

Reasons to not attend Georgia:
1) If someone is afraid that they wouldn’t fit in based on their ethnicity, because it’s mostly White. This didn’t affect my experience, but I understand I don’t represent every person of color. I would encourage someone to stick this out.

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