Encouraging minority students to get loud


Celestine Epps

Demographic enrollment facts from UNC Ashevilles institutional facts web page.

Jemima Malote, [email protected], Editor-in-Cheif

UNC Asheville has 637 students of color on campus,19.7% of the total student body. At a glance these numbers show the schools lack of racial diversity, but as a whole, they say nothing about the experience of being a racial minority on campus. 

They say nothing about the joy of finding a group of students of the same racial background who understand you and make you feel seen. Who share similar yet completely different experiences from you. Nor do they show the feelings of ostracisation or tokenism that come from many classrooms or organizational clubs. 

I make up 1 of the 52 Asian students on campus and my experience may mirror yours. I came from a minority-majority school that had a higher rate of Hispanic students. Despite not speaking the same languages, I found comfort in seeing people who looked like me and held similar cultural values. I graduated and came to UNCA as a transfer student during the 2020 fall semester. 

It took until the 2021 spring semester for me to find other Asian students on campus and make meaningful connections. I’ll never forget covering ASIA club’s Night Market and finally meeting another Filipino on campus, as well as seeing more Asian students. Even now, I still feel giddy seeing other Asian students around campus or in my non major classes. 

Most importantly, I’ll never forget the time and energy Asian faculty put toward creating spaces and events for Asian students during the 2021 spring semester when reporting of Asian hate crimes increased. 

Growing up my parents rarely spoke about racial discrimination, so hearing the stories of other Asian students’ helped me cope and gave me an outlet to talk about shared experiences.  

We are more than a quota or a photo on a website. We live complex and diverse lives that numbers do not show. 

Everyone’s story and experiences are different and as the student voice of UNC Asheville for the past 40 years, we offer a space for those stories to be shared as we are unaffiliated with the campus. We are not public relations for the school and we strive to share all experiences and stories at UNCA, whether they are good or bad. 

Sharing these experiences is why we develop this project. We are asking for students of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds to share an experience or general experiences on campus that left a profound impact on them non anonymously. It might be scary, but your voice, your name and your experiences have power. You have a right to be listened to and understood.