NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — So, what’s this “bubble”?
It’s what some current and former students at Christopher Newport University say is the 260 acres in midtown Newport News, shared by 4,800 students.
Breaking that number down by race, Data USA counts CNU’s student population as 75.5 percent white, 7.03 percent Black or African American, and 5.16 percent Hispanic or Latino.
Outside of the bubble, the rest of the city of Newport News that’s much more diverse: 44 percent white, 39.8 percent Black, 5 percent Hispanic.
So, again, what’s this “bubble”?
Recent CNU graduate Margaret Hughes told WAVY News 10’s Don Roberts “When you’re in CNU, you’re pretty self-contained. People don’t — they go out to volunteer and maybe, do something — they don’t really engage with the community.”
“It’s kind of a joking matter, but at the same time it’s really not” said current CNU senior Blakely Lockhart. “We, as a (CNU) community, we do emphasize (community) service. But that engagement ends at that location, at that service location. It doesn’t come back to our campus, really. And I think there’s a big isolation that happens.”
That isolation could be a result of attitudes about race, and the surrounding community.
“I encounter people who have never met a black person before, before coming to campus,” Lockhart said. “That was a first. So, not only is that a learning experience for them, it’s a learning experience for me on dealing with people who have never spoken to people like me — whatever that means, ‘like me’ — or wanting to touch my hair or whatever it is.”
“It’s little things over time, kinda thing… I wouldn’t say it’s an outright act of racism that’s happened… The student body in particular … I don’t think it helps that the faculty is also majority white. We have very few faculty of color so that leaves us with not a lot of mentors either on our campus,” Lockhard said.
Lockhart continued: “I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but we ‘promote diversity of thought’ on campus. And I would like to not only see diversity of thought, but literally diversity of people. So, I think, um, trying to bring more of those events to campus as well as us going to different locations would really help people with that CNU ‘bubble.'”
One such event is the “Keeping the Momentum” rally and march happening this Saturday. Blakely says it’s a follow up to a demonstration held about two weekends ago.
“There was a good turnout… but I think we need to continue doing this and make it a little bit louder.”
Hughes hopes marchers are loud enough to generate some more movement.
“In addition to having this protest we want to kind of push people to get outside of the CNU bubble, because the CNU bubble is really comfortable… There’s not a whole lot of engaging with people who are different from you and we want people to get outside of that because that’s how people change and that’s how change happens,” Hughes said.
Lockhart and Hughes say this march on CNU’s campus Saturday is a unity and education event. They hope to get the attention of the administration to promote more diversity among faculty and students at CNU.
The “Keeping the Momentum” rally and march starts at 3 p.m. Saturday at CNU’s Trible plaza. Organizers say signs or any student can show you how to get there.
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