Friday afternoon, students gathered in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College to discuss diversity and begin the planning stages of a new minority honors club.
The tentative name of the club is Club HOCO. Friday’s meeting was led by Jennifer Parsons, the assistant dean of the Honors College, who opened up the floor for discussion and allowed students to speak freely on why they feel a club like this is needed on campus.
“I think the main focus should be community,” freshman art major Nakiyah Jordan said. “The first thing I noticed being here is that when I enter the room is being the only black student there or one or two. I think it would be nice to have this club just to be able to see everyone else that is here because we’re minorities we probably have some shared stuff in common.”
Parsons said out of the 1,500 students in the Honors College, only 185 students are minorities. At Friday’s meeting, she also said the Honors College saw a decline in minority applications this past year.
Jordan said she was shocked to learn of the small percentage and feels there is possibly an issue of getting black students interested in Ole Miss.
Jordan said she thinks the Honors College is a great community and feels like Club HOCO could provide a place for conversations to be had with other minority students who have had some of the same reservations she has had.
“I think there is something to be said about race relations on campus,” Jordan said. “I think this club can be a part of including everyone to speak at the table and have a seat.”
Other students at the meeting shared their desire for a place where they can meet people like themselves and for more diversity not only in the classroom but in the Honors College as a whole.
Freshman biochemistry major Azaziah Parker said there was only one other African-American student in her Honors 102 class, and international studies and Spanish major Swetha Manivannan noticed she was the only Indian in her 102 class.
Parker said it is important to have a minority club on campus.
“I feel that we should educate people who don’t know about what we go through every day,” Parker said.
Manivannan said she believes Ole Miss can do a better job of representing minorities on campus and the key to that is making people more aware of situations that someone different may be going through.
“I love the community here, and the people here are pretty open-minded,” Manivannan said. “There are so many resources, and it is a welcoming place. We should portray that to the rest of the school and future applicants. This is a place they can feel welcomed regardless of being a minority or not.”