So saying that coming to Marquette University, a predominantly white Catholic university, was "culture shock" would be an understatement. I am in the minority religiously, ethnically, and according to my educational and socioeconomic status. From the moment I first got on campus, I found myself frantically searching not for a place where I would be like everyone else, rather for a place where everyone was different - and proud of it.
When I learned today that our #loweclass final project would be about the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) on campus, the lower class first-generation Hindu woman inside of me jumped for joy. It supported what I have been slowly realizing about diversity on campus: it exists, but you have to look really damn hard to find it.
There are so many things that this project can reveal about the way Marquette responds to the minorities. A technical aspect that could be included could be an interactive map showing where the EOP graduates are today. The big underlying question there is an important one: are they moving on, or are they moving back? Each of those two decisions carries a different weight. If they're going back, they are not making a place for their ethnic group in a different area of the city, which maintains the sharp segregation of Milwaukee. If they are moving out, they are not specifically impacting their community, which begs the question: What are they impacting?
Another question that is worth looking at is what Marquette's current struggles are. Even if that is nothing more than a paragraph in the final tab of the website, it is the question that will make this story relevant. The EOP graduates lived in a time when protests were the way to get things done. They stood strong for what they believed until they got it. They had their Martin Luther King Jr. My generation is a quiet one on these matters. I don't know who our MLK is. Yet, diversity bills are still shot down in student government because there is a belief that minority students do not face struggles at Marquette. The reality cannot be further from that. Being here is just as much of a struggle for students like me as it is a blessing. Today, as a Hindu on campus, I have no place to pray while there is a chapel in every residence hall on campus, plus several others elsewhere. The challenges regarding diversity at Marquette are far from being overcome.
Therefore, I maintain that the real purpose of this project is twofold. First, it is to increase awareness about a program that made thousands of Marquette success stories possible. Second, it is to motivate and inspire current students to push for the rights they deserve. To follow by the examples of the people we will profile so that no student ever again has to ask, "Am I Marquette?"